Interview by Joshua Langston
Photos by Viranlly Liemena
Yesterday before her New York Fashion Week Debut, I got a chance to meet and interview Karolyn Pho. Within the first 30 seconds of meeting her I was a fan of her, she has this magnetic pull and natural charisma that just makes you want to listen. Considering it was her first time showing at New York Fashion Week she came across very calm and collected, but I’m sure internally her heart was thumping like a jack hammer.
JL: You started your career as a wardrobe stylist and costume designer, what made you decide to take the next step and become a designer?
KP: Well it just happened organically, I was asked to style a few short films, music videos and that quickly turned into costume design. We were working on things that were more period, and I was having to create costumes that were more period but also surrealism, it was so specific. I’m such an anal person that if I have this idea I have to execute it and if I can’t find it anywhere I have to make it. I think that whole process of making things by drawing, sketching and creating the story, it really just happened.
JL: Growing up how would you describe your style and how has it evolved over the years?
KP: Ohhhh, I had SO many looks.
JL: So did I, and they were not all good. I’ll put it to you this way. My name is Josh and as a kid my mom would put me in “Osh Kosh Bagosh” EVERYTHING, so naturally I became “Osh Kosh Bagosh Josh”, a name that taunted me through the greater part of my childhood.
KP: Well it’s fine, my last name is affiliated with a soup…so you know…and I’m Vietnamese on top of it.
KP: My Style. Well when I was rocking this boyish/girlish thing because I was always getting hand me downs from my brother, so I was wearing Maui and Sons with bike shorts, a skirt over it, with jelly shoes and lace ankle socks…I don’t know what style that is, but it was my style. In highschool I kind of got into “G-Skate”, I thought I was really street for a minute and I was wearing Nikes with fur and all of that. Then I became like a “fashion head” girl when I moved to LA and I was working more and I was getting exposed to different designers and brands so it’s really evolved, and now especially while creating this brand and trying to stay consistent with this story of a girl, it’s mellowed out a bit and I think I’m also getting to an age where that is how I was to represent myself as a person.
JL: Plus you are also the face of a line so that it something else you need to keep in mind.
KP: Right, so I have to be me. I can’t just be G-Skate tomorrow, unfortunately.
JL: Who was your biggest style inspiration growing up?
KP: My god, I don’t even know. Is it weird to say Adrien Brody? I just love him, he has always been wearing this beautifully tailored suits and I’m like “Damn he’s so slim, and so elegant”, and I don’t know what it is about it but I have always thought he was amazingly dressed.
JL: As a young designer that is still in the beginning years of their career, is there any particular designer’s career you look up to?
KP: There’s so many and for many different reasons. Dries van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Céline, Margiela. All of them because they stuck to a very specific, direct vision and they executed it perfectly. Flawlessly. I’m sure they have their doubts, but for me I think that’s incredible, it’s difficult to do that.
JL: What has been the most difficult of your design career thus far?
KP: I haven’t had any bumps yet, knock on wood. Don’t get me wrong there are your bad days and your good days but I’m doing what I love and I have no room to complain. I’m showing at fashion week, and getting to design clothes that I love, which are me, and it’s amazing.
JL: What would be the highlight of your design career so far?
KP: This very moment right here.
JL: This is your first show if I’m not mistaken?
KP: Yes this is my first show and my first New York Fashion Week and creating this show has been one of the best moments of my life.
JL: So what was going through your head this morning when you woke up and realized today was the day of your show?
KP: I didn’t sleep…..*laugh*. It was so hard to sleep last night because I felt like I was going to Disney Land in the morning. My alarm was set for 8am, because I decided I was going to sleep in today and take it easy, but I was up at 7:20am on the dot all like “What time is it!?”.
JL: In the few seasons you have been designing so far, how would you say your designs have evolved?
KP: I think that there has been an evolution and if by that you mean growth it’s definitely come from the feedback of the community, and being here in NY. It is very serious for me to be here in NY. Especially everything that everyone is saying to me here means so much for me, it’s like, “Your in it now”. It’s about taking these notes wheather it is negative or positive and infusing it into the collection and still keeping my concept and my direction true.
JL: Lastly, what is the inspiration for your Fall collection we will be seeing today?
KP: Did I describe my girl to you? She’s a very cool girl, she’s kind of “Andro”, all the clothes fit very baggy and loose and she’s just IN IT. Like she walks into a room and doesn’t give a fuck but everybody is looking at her and that’s what is sexy about her, and you don’t know what it is but it’s that little thing, the presence.
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