there’s something about yoon
The AMBUSH co-designer and social media sensation talks style, beauty and LSD.
With her ever-changing hair colours, inimitable style, notable jewellery line AMBUSH and her eye-catching cameo in A$AP Rocky's killer video for LSD, Yoon is the girl we all wish we could be if we had the chance. She's a natural knockout, oozes cool and her talents span as wide as design to dj-ing. Whilst in London for a work, a whistlestop trip and Wireless, we caught up with her to talk style, the future of AMBUSH and how her turn as A$AP's leading lady came to be.
When did you first show an interest in fashion and style?
Probably middle school, I discovered a lot of fashion magazines in the library. I used to go to public library in Seattle so I could read everything. Seattle wasn't so glamorous back then, so I used to get these magazines and think like, 'woah people are all glitzy on the East side!' Thinking maybe I should go out there! The more I got into it, I started looking for alternatives, I discovered things like i-D and The FACE magazines at bookstores.
Who are some of your favourite designers at the moment?
I think Phoebe Philo is really good, because she understands what women want, it sounds cliché but as a woman I really get what she's trying to do. Kim Jones is really good, the details he puts into his clothes, the knowledge he has is just like 'woah!' I also think with Rei Kawakubo, it's not just the clothes, the way she designs everything, her business model, it's something I really look up to.
Those are 3 very different designers…
I think my taste is really wide. Inspiration can come from street kids though. I also love old photos actually, the club kids photos from the 80s and 90s, or even the 50s and 60s.
So, the latest AMBUSH collection is called Dreamcatchers, have you had any thoughts on the new collection yet?
I have no idea! So I need to work on that as soon as I get back to Tokyo!
Where do you see the brand five years from now?
Hopefully we'll have few stores in different cities. We are in talks of making our own store next year, starting in Tokyo so that's gonna be the start. Once we get more knowledge of our own store, we'll definitely expand.
If you could see one person in AMBUSH, who would it be and why?
I wanna see Cindy Sherman in AMBUSH. I think that would be amazing. I like the way she's like an actress, I would love to see how she can interpret looks in her own way, using the jewellery and just playing out different characters.
Do you still get a buzz when you see girls walking down the street wearing the brand?
Well I think a lot of people who buy AMBUSH kinda want something different and they wanna be unique. Sometimes I do learn from some customers and they kinda customise our pieces on their own. Sometimes I think to myself 'Oh I didn't know you could do it that way, I will use that idea for next collection.' It's cool to see people who know what they want wearing it!
How would you describe the creative scene in Tokyo?
It's a good question. Everyone is like in their own bubbles right now. There's not that many people crossing over to different sections!
Where should we visit if you were in Tokyo?
There's a really funny café, it's called Lion Café, in Shibuya, that was built it in the 20s. They only play classical music. You aren't allowed to talk in there. That's one of the rules, it's really funny. It's amazing, you go in there, everybody just faces the front, and there's huge, old speakers, it's old as hell that place but really fun so that place I definitely recommend it!
Then the Robot Restaurant's really fun. You see girls in bikinis riding on robots, fighting pandas and stuff, you don't get more Japanese than that!
I like Golden Gai in Shinjuku that was built after WW2. In the area, there are four strips and I think there is over 200 bars all cramped in this little area. Some of the bars are tiny and you can go there and just bar hop all night, it's really cute. I heard they gonna get rid of that place before Olympics, so definitely visit before it's gone!
You are a designer and a DJ. Is there anything else you'd want to explore?
I think cooking is kind of fun. If you think about it, no matter what you make, the concept is the same, just ingredients that you mix together and there is an outcome. You know what I mean? Reminds me of the way you make music, just the process is a little different, but cooking is really interesting.
How did you feature in A$AP Rocky's LSD video come about?
I knew they were gonna shoot the video in Tokyo, and they asked me to be in the video but when Rocky came to Tokyo I hadn't made up my mind! I didn't say yes as I wasn't sure what the music video was gonna be about, I hadn't heard the song at this point and I didn't know what to expect!
When he arrived, we were going to the studio and in the car and went over the story but I still hadn't said yes at this point! I told him 'like are you sure 'cause I can still introduce you to models and actress, people who can actually act in a music video' and he said 'no I want like a real person to be in it', so I said yes and we went to the studio and he played the music, and it was completely different than what I expected. It was beautiful, it was like a movie soundtrack. After that it was easy, I just loved the song so much that I knew I definitely I wanted to be a part of it.
How was A$AP as an actor?
He was so good! A lot of things were one take but it looked so incredible in the final edit. We had to take a lot of shots but he is really good, he goes and he shoots it and we were done. He is a natural actor.
Who are some fellow women or men you think have great style?
I think Pharrell [Williams], for a guy, it's not because he just won the CFDA or anything, it's that he's like not so bothered by trends! He is so free in that sense, it just takes a lot of strength to be yourself and just wear and enjoy clothes Women... I don't know cause usually when someone looks good it's someone else putting in the effort for them, so I don't want to name like pop stars because it's mainly somebody else's work. Zoë Kravitz is very beautiful and has good style though!
You are so self-assured and have a very unique style and beauty. Sadly amongst some Asian cultures, there is a trend for changing yourself... how do you feel about it?
It's funny I was just on a vacation with a few girlfriends in Hawaii, I was just talking about this whole issue, not just with Asians but a lot of girls. Like in the 70s, people used to be so natural and like, teardrop boobs, nice soft butts, they were all just so like free and flowing. There's something sensual about it, it's a natural sensuality, and I feel like a lot of girls are really forced right now, injected, and too pumped up. I miss how it used to be.
Do you think social media has had a part to play in it?
I don't think it's social media so much... maybe Instagram has started trends on certain ways to wear make-up, like heavy contouring and all that stuff. I don't know how we got to this place where people need to have these huge butts, but I'm not against anything. I just think beauty comes in all shapes. You can be small boobed, you can have a small butt, size isn't everything! I guess in the end it's all subjective, cause you come to place like Japan, and people really like to have heavy makeup on, have colourful hair, they don't mind artificiality, but that's unique to like Japanese culture. When you go to Korea, all those girls get the same surgeries and start looking like clones, it's a little freaky but that's their thing, so how do you decide what beauty should be? I have my own sense but I don't wanna impose that on other people. It's all subjective.
Text Lynette Nylander
Photography Joseph Marshall