Fans of the intellectual aesthetic of Phoebe Philo’s Celine now have something new to look forward to: Korean-American designer Rok Hwang makes, for his label Rokh, the kind of clothes that art-obsessed women gravitate towards. Not least because he spent his formative years working alongside Philo at Celine, before spending time at Chloé and Louis Vuitton.
Hwang grew up in Austin, Texas, and moved to London aged 19 to study womenswear design at Central Saint Martins, under the supervision of Professor Louise Wilson. Since then, he has lived between London and Paris: ‘I do love my life in London, but I take the Eurostar about twice a month. Most of my friends live in Paris, and my fashion references are mainly French: Vionnet, Lanvin. Deep down, I think that’s the reason I decided to stage my very first show there. After all, Paris is still the dream.’
The A/W19 show – a sartorial reimagining of his Texan teenage years, rife with the kind of deconstructed midi-skirts, oversized cocoon coats and long paisley dresses that delight art dealers and CEOs alike – came eight months after Hwang won the 2018 LVMH Special Prize.
But, if his vision has caught on, it is thanks to his realistic approach to clothing: ‘I work with an all-female team. We construct each garment from the body and try on every sample. If it can’t be worn comfortably or make a woman feel good about herself, no matter how amazing it looks on a hanger, we cancel it.’
His philosophy, he says, couldn’t be simpler: ‘I am fascinated by the quality of artisan-made objects; that human touch, those irregularities that make every piece unique. It’s exactly what we try to accomplish at Rokh. Perfect imperfection.’ rokh.net