Yeohlee, the award-winning designer who has been ahead of the pack for 41 years, showed her Fall 2022 Ready-to-Wear collection on Thursday. Held at the YEOHLEE retail store at 12 West 29th Street, it was an intimate and informal presentation with just Yeohlee, her fit model Sam Xu, and myself, See yeohlee.com for more info.
The collection is titled “NEED WANT BREATHE.” Those three words sum up Yeohlee’s design credo: “What do we need? What do we want? And why don’t we all take a breath of fresh air!” Of course, ‘need’ is a very tricky concept. “As far as I’m concerned, nobody needs to make anything new. That’s why I am minimal and spare.”
Yeohlee believes it’s essential to find joy wherever you can get it. She is delivering a joyful collection that is pure YEOHLEE: innovative, beautifully fabricated, and well thought out.
Yeohlee’s architectural designs place a premium on function and practicality, and as always, Yeohlee keeps the urban nomad in mind. She sees her clothes as “intimate architecture which can affect how you work and how you traffic through your space.”
Yeohlee is one of the most consistent creators around. Her work has evolved, but the same principles always apply. As if to perfectly illustrate that point, along with the run of show, Yeohlee included something written about her in February 1998 by the late Richard Martin, former curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
Among Martin’s astute observations: “Yeohlee is one of the most ingenious makers of clothing today. She advances theory and broaches the garment not only as a specimen but as beautiful, viable apparel.”
Yeohlee’s concise 12 piece collection is a mix of day and evening, and included are a few real entrance makers. Although Yeohlee has no rules and she never thinks in those constricting terms.
What’s essential for this designer is making zero waste, packable, versatile, multi-functional clothing that can be worn in many different ways. For example, the molten metal “Gladiator” pants are designed with ties to be worn wide or narrowed at the ankles.
Similarly, the customer who buys Yeohlee’s black silk organza “Infanta” skirt and sky blue and black microfiber gabardine fringed “Shapeshifter” can wear it as many ways as she can imagine. This is illustrated by Sam, who plays around with it as she models, literally converting it into several completely different looks.
Yeohlee makes her covetable coats and jackets without any linings or interfacings. Yeohlee recounts how several years ago when she lectured at Yale, a woman in the audience stood up and told Yeohlee that she once had to make a choice between buying a Yeohlee coat and paying the rent. She bought the coat. When she wore it, a man chased her down the street to tell her it was sensational. He became her husband!
Among the water-repellent outerwear that will make you wish for inclement weather is the gunmetal “Industrial” coat with a diagonal zipper. A black matte zip front cape with gunmetal trim (refer to lead shot) is shown with a black and white stripe circle skirt made from just one piece of fabric. The material comes from the Detroit-based Lear Corporation, and it is used for car seats. Only Yeohlee!
When Sam, who is not only a model but an actress and an opera singer, comes out wearing a fringe trim molten metal jersey dress with cut velvet yoke, Yeohlee exclaims that this is the perfect thing for her to wear next week when she performs an aria in Don Giovanni.
Perhaps my favorite look in the collection is the silver/gold moiré notch collar jacket and matching “Trishaw” pants. Worn with a white paper cotton boy shirt, it is boyish, glamorous, and precisely what Yeohlee wore when she received the CFDA Board of Director’s Tribute Award at the Four Seasons last November. Yeohlee had a strong reaction to the outfit, so she decided to put it on the line.
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