Miss Sohee: the London-based designer dominating Milan Fashion Week

On Thursday of Milan Fashion Week, you would be forgiven for expecting Prada or Moschino to serve up the most breath-taking designs.

However, everyone who made it to Corso Venezia 13, at Dolce and Gabbana’s Alta Moda studio, to see Central Saint Martins graduate and London based designer Miss Sohee’s presentation knows this was not the case. In fact, it was Sohee Park’s couture-level gowns, made in an Islington studio and shipped for her fashion week debut, that earned the most gasps and succeeded in capturing the pure fantasy of fashion at its best.

Huge, crinoline satin gowns embellished with flora and fauna embroideries, Swarovski crystals, and glistening sculptural headpieces filled the presentation room making a scene as impressive in opulence as it was in craftmanship.

Super size trains with opulent embroidery

/ Miss Sohee

Sohee, who is originally from Seoul, South Korea, has been one to watch since her 2020 graduation collection, which was all show stopping, floral inspired gowns with plumped flounces. The six looks blew up online, and were just as quickly spotted on the backs of Miley Cyrus, Bella Hadid and Ariana Grande.

Her most rewarding celebrity relationship has been with Gemma Chan, though. “I just love Gemma as a person. I think she is beautiful and her beauty comes from a very intellectual place,” says Sohee. “I dressed Gemma for the Eternals premiere in Rome and it was collaborative with Gemma, and me, and her team. She gave me a lot of advice, she supports me, and I met her several times for the fittings as well. It was such a special moment,” she says.

Gemma Chan wears Miss Sohee for the Eternals premiere in Rome.

/ Getty Images for Marvel

Last July, she built on her first designs for a second collection inspired by South Korean female divers, before Dolce & Gabbana spotted the bright young thing and offered her support in leveling up her output for a Milan presentation this season. “This is my dream collection,” she says.

The focus was exploring her roots. “I was inspired by traditional Korean folk art called Minhwa. It translates to paintings of the people, and it was the traditional folk art during 1300s to 1900s,” she explains. “I used elements from within Minhwa, such as sea rays, butterflies, flowers, mountains and all of these animals – tigers, deer, rabbits – and I translated them in my own way, through embroidery.”

This embroidery is by far the collection’s greatest asset, and comes splashed across metre long trains, purple capes and bulbous, ballroom skirts. “For me, embroidery is painting with beads and fabrics. All the embroidery is hand sketched by me before being developed,” she says. “We sample them, then I choose the beads. Most of them are done in the London studio, and thankfully I had a lot of students from CSM that volunteered to help.”

Minhwa, Korean folk art, inspired Miss Sohee’s embroidery

/ Miss Sohee

This is the realization of a lifelong fascination with the handcraft, which began at home in Seoul. “My grandmother liked to sew embroideries as a hobby. She raised me, and as a child I grew up very surrounded by her work,” Sohee says. “It’s there inside me all the time. When I look at embroidery, it reminds me of her work.”

Her favorite piece this time happens to be the biggest; a vast navy blue strapless gown, complete with an off-shoulder shawl-cum-train covered in crystal embroidered roses. “I remember in London, I was cutting this big piece of paper on the floor and sketching everything with my assistants. Seeing my drawings come to reality – I’m so happy,” she says.

Miss Sohee’s other signature is the shell-like, glistening structures she creates, which were unmissable on Cardi B as she collected her American Music Awards last November. “They are made from abaca fabric, which I started using last season,” she says. “It is a special fabric woven from the leaves of an abaca plant, which is a kind of banana tree, and it has this shimmery texture.” This time it came as a petals with Swarovski trims, making up a peep-hole head piece worn with a red, silk satin dress. “I work really hard to find sustainable materials, so this one is very important,” she says.

Cardi B wears Miss Sohee at the 2021 American Music Awards.

/ Getty Images

Sohee credits the scale and eccentricity of the work to her days at Central Saint Martins. “I really loved my time at Central Saint Martins. I had so many friends and the tutors were so supportive. They taught me to express my vision and become the most the extreme and expressive version of myself,” she says.

It’s that same artistic London community which means she has no plans on moving anywhere else soon. “I have so many creatives that are close to me, giving advice and opinions. It’s what makes it so fun working in London, and being based here,” she says.

So, can we expect a London Fashion Week debut next season? “Definitely. For me London is home and I want friends and my studio there. I just love London so much, and I would love present during fashion week, if that’s possible,” says Sohee.

If this collection is anything to go by, it won’t be one to miss.

Scroll the gallery above to see Miss Sohee’s Milan Fashion Week presentation.

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