When Sohee Park was still a young girl, the designer remembers being inspired by her mother, a famous children’s book illustrator, to paint and create fantasy worlds that she would dream up. But it wasn’t till she chanced upon a Chanel haute couture show in 2012 airing on television that she struck on the idea of fashion design as a way of bringing these fantasies to life. “I just became this geek doing whatever I want, like sketching all the time and buying magazines,” she recounts with a smile at the memory.
Coming from a conservative educational background, the precocious Park decided that she would pursue the path of creative expression the minute she graduated from middle school. She applied to Central Saint Martins (“The best school for fashion,” according to the designer) and was accepted for a BA in fashion design with marketing. Well, the world is all the better for it, as Park proved with her stunning graduate collection. Holographically hued and delightfully poofy, The Girl In Full Bloom was one of the immediate standouts, garnering viral social media attention and that of celebrities eager to be dressed in her extravagant creations.
“I was creating this collection during lockdown and I wanted to create something beautiful to inspire people again,” says Park self-effacingly. “The silhouettes are mainly inspired by the shape of blooming flowers. I’ve always found them fascinating because they’re like little sculptures.” Flipping through her mood boards and inspirations for the collection, one can almost picture the unfurling of peony petals and the lusciously full shape of the flower in her now-famous iridescent green and pink gown, or the exuberance of the poppy flower, reimagined in shimmering blue.
Of course, on closer inspection, the imprint of master designers the likes of Charles James, Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga is indelible in the young designer’s work, with her interpretation of the extravagant forms, tempered with a savvy of what works on social media and the power of image-making in this digital age.
But what of the voluminous, squishy shapes that instantly renders her work recognisable and irresistibly irreverent at the same time? I ask as much and am surprised by her honest response. “The specific shape came from when I was looking at stuffed furniture,” she tells me. “It has volume, like a sofa or a cushion, and some of them were shaped into flowers.”
To date, celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Cardi B, Bella Thorne, Jhene Aiko and more have requested to wear the budding designer’s creations for their own statement-making moments, whether it’s on social media or for public appearances (Cyrus wore Park’s Peony gown on The Graham Norton Show). “I’m so grateful that celebrities love my work and that motivates me to create more,” she says.
To that end, the designer has decided to stay on in London and work on her fashion brand, Miss Sohee. With plans for a ready-to-wear collection, a collaboration for a bag collection, and her next demi-couture collection on the way, Park is hurtling forward with full speed and is looking forward to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and a return to the days of glamour. “Fingers crossed that after this pandemic, people are allowed to party again, go out again,” she laughs. “It will be like a complete celebration.”