April 2, 2013

Student Fashion Spotlight: Lulu Mu-Park ’13

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This week, The Sun examines the work of Lulu Mu-Park ’13, a fiber science & apparel design student. During her senior year, she has been concentrating on menswear, which will be the focus of her show. She has hopes to get an MBA and follow the route of an entrepreneur in the future, but for now, she is focused on the upcoming Fashion Show on April 27. Park’s line will feature sneakers from Dekline, a skate shoe company that sponsors her. Park’s excitement for the show is clear; she promises “the most amazing talent that Cornell has to offer, and the next generation of superstars.”

The Sun: Can you tell me about your senior collection?

Lulu Mu-Park: The name of my collection is COINTELPRO, which is an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program. It was a covert operation by the U.S. government to kill people they thought were rabble-rousing or causing trouble politically and socially around the 1960s. … The influences [of my collection] are a lot of ideas about conspiracy, criminality and the line between outright criminality and misbehavior.

Fashion itself is always subversive. I’m a very commercial designer, so part of that is … being interesting or subversive in ways that are almost undetectable, like freemasonry, secret societies, cults, conspiracies — all those things, but in a mischievous way, not in like a paranoid way. It’s in kind of like a joke way, because you always think people who believe in conspiracy theories or who are a part of these things are kind of a joke.

Sun: How did you start to get interested in fashion?

L.M.P: Well, actually, … when I was like 13, I hung out with a bunch of really dirty skater kids and kind of dressed like them. My dad thought I dressed really badly, so he got me subscriptions to a ton of different fashion magazines like Vogue, Elle, all the big ones. Initially, I was [insulted]. I was like, “No, that’s so mean!” But I got really into it; I totally loved it.

Sun: So you were a tomboy?

L.M.P.: Oh definitely; I still am. Maybe that’s why I love boys’ clothes so much. [They’re] very understated.

Sun: I was a tomboy too when I was younger, and people would always ask me if I was a boy or girl. Did you ever have that problem?

L.M.P.: No, I think I was a very lady-like tomboy. My aesthetic and the way I like to approach fashion is — it’s a little bit uptight. It’s very fresh, it’s very clean — a lot of sets; I’m really big into matching things.

Sun: Who are your most prominent influences?

L.M.P.: BAPE was, I think, the first streetwear brand that I felt really spoke to me. I remember I got [this] hoodie when I was a teenager, and it was like this very mundane thing, … but everything about it felt so special …[In 2011,] I interned for Patrik Ervell, an amazing menswear designer. That was a really formative experience. … That was kind of my masterclass. [Then in 2012,] I worked for Proenza Schouler and then I worked for The Row. That was like ultimate luxury goods. There’s no other way to experience people making luxury goods in America at that level. What they showed me was how to do it right. Everything was perfect and they hardly ever made any compromises — I think that’s what luxury is.

I think as a designer, you want to put forth your vision without compromising the clarity of your vision; you always have to make compromises on material, on production, on quality, [and] on prices, but all great designers stay true to what sets them apart.

Sun: There are many different schools of design throughout the world. Do you identify your work with one region exclusively?

L.M.P.: I think there’s so much diversity in the industry and those boundaries are being blurred a lot. It used to be that if you’re from a certain country or you went to a certain school, you were expected to be a certain way. The popular media — I can especially point to Project Runway — [has] totally opened up the industry. [The industry] used to be such a mystery to people and I think, all of a sudden, especially in America, a lot of young boys and girls saw that show, saw a career for themselves, and made their way to New York. In terms of information, it’s so much more accessible now. The world is getting a lot more design-conscious, not just fashion.

But to bring it back to your question, I think I’m such an American — I’m a good ol’ American … Most of my inspirations come from television. I think television is America’s gift and curse to the world. … As an overarching concept, my inspirations are from TV shows. All the TV shows [that inspire me] are very very different, but what they all have in common is that they are part of this great tradition of American popular culture. Definitely my number one inspiration for this collection was South Park, The X-Files and Lost.

Original Author: Danyoung Kim

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