Red-Carpet Favourite Miss Sohee on How She Fell in Love With Couture

Words by Amy De Klerk

The designer – who is the third recipient of the prestigious Goodwood Talent in Fashion Awards – opens up about her rise to the top

Having dressed the likes of Megan Fox, Gemma Chan and Priyanka Chopra, Sohee Park – better known as Miss Sohee – is one of the most exciting names in red-carpet dressing right now. Park grew up in South Korea where she was influenced by her grandmother’s love of embroidery, which led to her fascination with intricate design techniques. She studied at Central Saint Martins and now runs a fast-growing couture business out of London. Park has a lot on her plate – and has just taken on another challenge, designing three gowns as part of the prestigious Goodwood Talent in Fashion Awards, of which she is the third recipient.

“I just feel so incredibly honoured to receive this award,” she tells me. “It’s the first award I’ve won in the UK, and it feels very special. I was able to meet the Duke of Richmond and visit the Goodwood estate, so the whole experience has been very valuable and precious.”

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Gemma Chan wearing Miss Sohee
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The Goodwood Talent in Fashion Award celebrates one winning designer that has been selected by the Duke of Richmond (who owns the Goodwood Estate), the British Fashion Council’s Caroline Rush and Sian Westerman, as well as our very own Lydia Slater, editor of Harper’s Bazaar UK. As part of the project, the winning designer creates three gowns that are inspired by Goodwood’s history, which are then put on display at the house as part of the Goodwood Collection.

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Park follows in the footsteps of Richard Quinn and Molly Goddard, and seems thrilled to have been given this opportunity. The experience involved visiting the house on the Goodwood estate and getting to know the rich history of the building, as well as that of the women who have lived there, which served as her inspiration for the collection.

“All three looks were inspired by the estate. I went there two months ago to have tea with the duke, and he showed us around – we saw all the portraits of the duchesses and it was just fascinating to see the clothes they wore, and I wanted to include these elements in my design, translated in my own way. I was also very inspired by the interiors of the house, particularly for the colours and prints.”

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The first look is a black velvet corseted gown with a voluminous pink skirt, which was inspired by a photograph of Susan, Duchess of Richmond, which Park saw in the yellow room of the house. The second was based on a portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence of Caroline, the fifth Duchess of Richmond – Park designed an aqua blue hourglass inner dress with a silver metallic organza overskirt, while the embellishment on the dress was inspired by the tapestry room. The final look was based on a portrait of Lady George Lennox. In the painting, she wears a navy hunting jacket. ”I wanted to re-translate this look through my own lens,” Park says.

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Being able to create a collection from such a specific point of inspiration was exciting, but nothing new for Park, who says that her everyday experiences always lead to design ideas. “I always take inspiration from my own experiences,” she tells me. “So, being able to visit the house physically and getting to see everything up close really helped a lot when it came to designing these.”

And of course, creating resplendent eveningwear is also nothing new for Park, whose house is known for its exquisite details and over-the-top couture pieces. How exactly did she end up in this world?

Miss Sohee

Priyanka Chopra wearing Miss Sohee
CLAUDIO LAVENIA//GETTY IMAGES

“When I studied at Central Saint Martins, my eyes really opened to these sorts of gowns – I loved the detail and all the delicate embroidery. And then I took a year off to work for Marc Jacobs in New York. I was in the runway team working on the show pieces – they don’t necessarily call it couture, but the techniques really are couture, everything is handmade. That inspired me a lot. I have always been so passionate about these details, the delicate embroidery and I just saw myself doing that forever.”

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Now, Miss Sohee’s client list is growing fast, the brand is showing on the official Couture Fashion Week schedule, and Park has an entire team on her hands with an ever-evolving list of responsibilities.

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“There are so many challenges that go into running a business. I am the designer but I also run the business and I do find it very difficult to find the time to just be by myself and be creative. It’s tricky – it’s been a big lesson for me, and I am still learning all the time. My short-term goal is nothing crazy ambitious – all I want is to have a bigger team, lots of people around me that I can trust and rely on so that I can focus on being creative and spend as much time as possible on design.”

And long term? “I would love to have stores in London, Paris and Seoul. I would also love to be known as a really successful couture brand, and to grow into something that can align itself with the big houses in Paris.” Watch this space.

This article originally appeared in harpersbazaar.com