Yoon AMBUSH Talks Changes in the Fashion Industry, Her Inspirations and Designing for Dior Homme
Yoon Ahn, or maybe better known as Yoon AMBUSH, is the multi-hyphenate, polymath jewelry and apparel designer known for her interesting and cutting-edge pieces. We're all already familiar with her posts as co-founder of AMBUSH DESIGN (with her husband, Verbal, no less) and her recent appointment as Dior Homme's jewelry designer... but Yoon's got a whole story to tell, and we're finally learning more about the influential Korean-American artist.
A third-culture kid in the truest sense, Yoon grew up influenced by her own Korean heritage, but having lived in Hawaii, Seattle and then Boston for University (she studied to be a graphic designer). That's where she fatefully met Verbal, who eventually asked her to join him in Tokyo right as his rapping career took off with the Teriyaki Boyz. Really, she didn't intend to jump into designing, but her and Verbal just wanted to create cool, custom pieces that weren't, well, stereotypical "rapper" at the time. This design manifesto paved way for a very successful jewelry line worn by the likes of Kanye, Pharrell, Rihanna and Bella Hadid, and now, a full-fledged ready-to-wear line.
From AMBUSH DESIGN, you'll find silver and gold safety pins, crushed pop can silhouettes turned into bags, keys as earrings... it's the perfect level of interesting, but definitely elevated. Learn more about Yoon in our exclusive interview below, and shop AMBUSH DESIGN's jewlery now, and anticipate its fall/winter collection to launch this week at clot.com and JUICE Causeway Bay.
What are some major changes in the fashion industry that you've noticed since you and Verbal started AMBUSH? There are so much to mention. High fashion was more elitist before, much more snobby. But now the definition of the these ‘elitists’ have changed due to pop-culture’s influence in society and in the fashion industry. Also, I think the consumer has more power than the people who used to run and dictate what it was going to be for the market.
How did AMBUSH get into apparel and what are the biggest differences/challenges between designing jewelry and designing clothes? It all began very organically. In the beginning, we made apparel pieces as a “canvas" to complement the jewelry in our lookbook, but then it eventually grew into an entire collection. Our jewelry and apparel tell certain stories, and they complete the ideal image that we want to convey in respective collections. It's still lots of work and needs a lot of organization because [designing jewelry and clothes] are totally different processes when you make a piece. Also, with apparel, we are still taking baby steps to get better each time. But it's fun to create complete looks where both [apparel and jewelry] can coexist in a complementary way.
You're also designing for Dior Homme, can you tell us a bit about how you got into that? What are the major differences between the design processes with Dior and AMBUSH? Kim Jones and I have been friends for over ten years, and we actually met through Kanye. Kim always wanted to do a collaboration with us even while he was at LV. After his departure, he asked me to join him to do jewelry at Dior. Dior is a house with heritage and a creative director so I have to understand the code of the house and work around it. AMBUSH is 100% my creative direction. That’s where the major difference is. However in terms of the design process, it pretty much the same since ideas are mine for the jewelry.
Can you name some brands and designers that you love/are inspired by? More than brands, I'm shaped by artists from different fields like architecture, graphic design, movies to modern sculpture… studying them and their philosophies on design inspire me. Fashion is just another medium.
How do you keep up with current trends? I don’t care about trends. Nothing’s new under the sun. What is going on has been done and it's just all about the timing.
What do you think was the moment where you felt like AMBUSH or you "made it?" We haven’t made it. Every time I accomplish something, it dawns on me how much more I need to know more and far to go. I don’t think it will stop until I die. LOL
Lastly, how do you think AMBUSH's designs transcend different cultures? As a designer, I have always been studying cultures because real people on the street inspire me. It just happened that I grew up in the US and live in Asia so I think there are parts of me I think many people can feel connected with. My main focus is purely on the design more than culture. In the end, I really believe good design and good products transcends all so I hope to go there.