Christine Rhee went from being an architectural design student to a full blown fashion designer. After seeing a preview of her fall 2008 collection, we’re convinced that no wardrobe will be complete with something from this new talent. Christine Rhee is one to watch.
Tell us about your design philosophy, looking at your line you definitely have one.
Sure. I firmly believe in clothes as symbols of what the wearer wishes to express. For me, it has a lot to do with the kind of woman that I would like to be viewed as/ aspire to be. For CRHEE, those qualities are specifically strength, intelligence, complexity, modernity, and a bit of an unruly mind. So I go into designing the collections with those qualities in mind.
Explain how an architecture major gets into fashion design. Shouldn’t you be off creating buildings?
That’s funny. I ended up really loving my architecture education but started to realize that I did not love buildings enough to continue to do architecture. I just really loved design and wanted to do as much of it as possible. I really wanted to try to design something that I really love and I’ve always loved fashion. I think almost every term paper I wrote for every class was about the relationship between fashion and architecture. I think I’ve written about 5 papers on fashion and architecture during my time in college.
You stated you had a false start earlier what was that about?
I did a mini scarf collection for my very first attempt at doing anything fashion related my first year out of school. I definitely had a bit of a pause because I wasn’t entirely sure as to whether or not I wanted to try the fashion thing or go back to architecture. It’s the whole issue of the known being less frightening than the unknown.
What stores do you see your collections fitting snugly into?
That’s tough. There are so many great stores in New York. I don’t know about fitting in well, but there are several stores that I would really like to be carried in. I love Seven New York in Soho. They carry three of my favorite designers, Haider Ackermann, Preen, and Raf Simons, so that would be amazing to be in the same store as them. I like Eva as well, and the big stores like Barneys are also such a dream.
Are you and artist, designer, architect or a bit of all three?
Wow. That’s a big question. It would be great if people saw elements of all three in my work. I would love to be able to say all three but I would have to say that designer. I think I know what an architect is and I’m not that. I’m not sure what it would be to be an artist, so through process of elimination, I’m going to stick with designer.
What does Christine Rhee want to get out of fashion?
In terms of specific goals, it changes so much depending on so many different factors. The one constant is that I just want to design as much as possible for as long as possible. It sounds deceptively simple. I’ve loved fashion for as long as I can remember. I’m from a small town in Ohio. We didn’t have access to a lot of fashion magazines. Fashion definitely seemed like something that only other people got to do or participate in. I can’t even honestly say that designing clothes was a dream for me because it was so out of the realm of possibilities when I was growing up. To be doing it now, feels like, beyond a dream to me. It’s enough to just be doing it, right now.
We see brooding elements of Calvin Klein in your fall collection are we wrong? You can totally tell us.
Wow. That’s so nice. I never really thought of that. It wasn’t a reference or intentional but I can see where you get that. I like that phrase “brooding elements.” The “brooding” aspect of the collection though is intentional. I kind of imagined everything within the context of a solitary existence and really tried to infuse as much of myself into the collection as possible.
When not designing, what do you have time for.
I’m having a real science fiction moment right now, books and movies. I have to admit though, that aside from hanging out with friends, almost everything that I do in my free time is geared towards designing the current collection or the next one.
Pick a city, New York, Paris, Milan, London, where would you want to hold your next runway collection?
I would love to show in New York because that’s my home now. It takes so many people to make a collection, the people who work on it directly, and then the people who just keep you sane! It’s really important to me to be able to show them exactly what they’ve helped me make.
What do your friends think about your designing path in life.
Some people asked me “what took you so long?” I got some “I always thought you should do that.” Those were the nice responses. My friends are great.
What did you take away from working with Mary Ping?
So many things. Mary was such a great person to work for and especially as my introduction to the fashion world. She works so hard and really does everything. She’s so talented. So you definitely get to see a lot of different things and get a realistic idea of how hard you’re going to have to work. The most important thing that I learned from her was when she told me that, I’m paraphrasing, if you create something emotional and really put yourself into it then you’ll create something really strong.
You tend to use solid colors no mish-mash, usually one uniform color throughout why is that?
Personal preference. I love layered monochromes. I love white on white. Restraint and discipline are concepts that I’m very interested in exploring in terms of design. For the way that I design, I think it’s a lot about balancing things out. Being very controlled in terms of color palette gives me more freedom in terms of design. With my aesthetic, that is a compromise that I am more than willing to make, right now at least.
Each season from your collections has a name. Are you mulling over names for the Fall 2008 collection or have you picked one out already?
I already have a name. The name of the collection is “Isolator.” This collection was really meant as a flipside to the last collection “the Collector.” I liked the symmetry between the words (both ending in “tor”), and it makes for a very good contrast between the two. “The Collector” was designed within the frame of an office environment, which had to do a lot with dealing with other people and dealing with people’s perceptions (breaking rules, etc.). “Isolator” strips that all away and is more emotional and deals with the framework of one’s self-perception.
What’s next for Christine Rhee?
Hopefully another collection! I’ve got a few things brewing that I’d love to try out for Spring Summer 2009, (which already has a name). There are so many things I’d love to do. I’d love to do a second line, specifically a men’s oxford shirt line.
Realistically though, I think it’s updating my website and cleaning my studio.