Gloria Yu on Inspiring Women and Her Design Mantra
Barely out of college and a fresh graduate of Parsons School of Design, Hong Kong-raised Gloria Yu was offered her first design contract to create headwear for Lane Crawford's winter campaign. Inspired by her stunning headpieces and creative approach to hats and headbands, the retailer showcased Gloria's gorgeous work - and Yunotme was born. Gloria tells us more about her background in design, and what inspired her favourite pieces.
What first interested you in fashion design?
I wasn't the kind of designer that started making clothes for barbies when I was 3. I approach fashion more from a conceptual point of view: how garments have the power to tell a story about someone before they even speak. The first piece of 'clothing' I made was a four-foot wire cube covered with notebook pages from a math Certificate Exam. I crawled into it, crumbled it into the form of a dress around myself, and splattered paint on it after. In hindsight, it was about creating my own reality from a rather rigid and conventional upbringing, and distorting the square I was expected to fit in.
You designed the headpieces for Lane Crawford’s winter campaign. How did that come about?
I was the the only designer in my graduating year at Parsons to show a headpiece collection as my thesis. I showed it to some friends at Lane Crawford and they were very interested in brainstorming concepts about some sculptural headpieces I could make for their winter beauty campaign - so it all started from there. I was very inspired by Virgina Woolf's 1928 novel Orlando and artist Petah Coyne's work around that time, so the collection was definitely party inspired by them.
Who are the designers that inspire or have influenced you?
Alexander McQueen, because of the way he pushes concepts in his work. I love Dolce & Gabanna, for their whole brand philosophy of lace, decadence, family, joy, love, romance - I want to live in a Dolce ad. And recently Eileen Fisher: I like the way she runs her business, and her company's ambitious sustainable goals.
What is your favourite piece in your collection?
I would say it is Flock, a pure silk floral headband. It was the first headband I designed for everyday wear, and I love that it is a really practical, wearable item: it's been one of our bestsellers for years. With everything I create or make - whether its a headpiece, dinner, an opinion piece for my column - what I enjoy the most is the joy and inspiration it creates for other people. The women who wear my pieces are more valuable than the individual headwear - it's important to me that they love wearing them, feel confident and love creating memories in them. I also love Lisbeth, the feather headband which is subtly rebellious, Alice the wavy brim fur felt boater and Nico the straw boater with lace trim from our first hat collection!
Can you summarise your style in 3 words?
Like a boss.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Oxymorons. I like taking two opposing elements, and making them right together. Perfect imperfections, organised chaos; things like regimented patterns contrasted with the wildness of nature. I'm very inspired by women, too. I like to consider who I am making this piece for, and all the complexities of their characters: strong, fragile, rational, irrational, boyish, feminine. None of us are simply one thing, so I like to use these contradictions to create something which is true, but not easy.
What’s your favourite trend this season?
I love the block heels that are back in style: I think the retro-style Amelie headband from my summer collection is a great way of accessorising them. I like that 90s are back: velvet is a great material.
What makes your brand unique?
We make subtly loud statement pieces. We make people stop, and go, 'Hmmm, there is something about her.' The perfect headpiece will turn heads, not because it's big or bold or beautiful in itself, but because the woman wearing it looks completely enchanting. That's what I want to create; that's how I want the women who wear my items to feel.
Check out Gloria's latest collection here