Kung Katherine

Kung Katherine
By Omar Nasir

Designer Katherine Kung is making an impression on the fashion industry with her elegant and timeless designs. Known for meticulous tailoring and combining Eastern and Western influences, Kung has created a brand for the modern, sophisticated woman. The young designer shared her insights on breaking into the industry, the secrets to developing a distinctive brand, and the inspiration behind her latest collections.

How do you define timeless women’s wear?
Something you can wear again in 5, even 10 years time and still look appropriate/current in. (I’m constantly digging through my mother’s closet for these pieces).  

How did your apprenticeship at Oscar de la Renta prepare you to start your own brand?
I worked very closely with the couture team – from making patterns, to hand-sewing beading details, to fittings for the runway shows. These experiences taught me to push myself to create satisfying products. If the answer to “Would the Oscar woman buy my dress as well?” is maybe, then I am satisfied. 

What is the key to developing a distinctive brand that the modern woman will gravitate towards?

Kung Katherine fulfills a market niche by offering a timeless yet modern aesthetic in a affordable luxury price-point. The right customers gravitate towards that because we stay current and relevant while maintaining classic style. 
A few years back, you started a successful in house line in Hong Kong called Alexa and Todd by Katherine Kung. What are some of the most important lessons you learned?

Design and running a business are two completely different ventures. Both are fun. Through the Alexa & Todd brand, I learned a lot in terms of the market (especially culture wise) and production management. 

 What is the inspiration behind your Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer 2015 collections?

S/S15 is a marriage between traditional Native American influences and Helmut Newton’s Polaroid Series. F/W15’s inspiration came from a visit to the Botanical Garden in Rio de Janeiro (Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro), particularly from the cactus garden. Typically, my inspirations and references find their ways very subtly into the actual finished product. 

Describe the ideal “Kung Katherine” customer:
The Kung Katherine woman is well traveled and lives a metropolitan life style. She is very elegant and cultured, she has sophisticated taste, yet she is smart about her spending and purchases. She is loyal to the brands and products she believes in, but she never owns the same dresses as her friends do. She is confident but understands which fabrics and silhouettes compliment her age/body type best.

Can you tell us about the materiality of your collections? How has the east influenced you?

When I source fabric or trims, I am always looking for the wow factor but in a subtle way. The eastern influence is embedded in me, it comes out when I create; I am the East and the West. 

What are other brands you admire and why?

The product makes the brand, the brand is an extension of the creator. I am jealous of Haider Ackermann’s sensibility and I adore Carolina Herrera’s gracefulness. 

Why is it important for you to design precisely tailored clothes that are comfortable at the same time?

No one likes to wear uncomfortable clothing, it can ruin your relationship with the garment, hence the brand. It can even ruin your evening.  

How has living in New York City informed you as a designer?

Oh, in so many ways. I am surrounded by world talents who push themselves to be the best in their trade or art form; that is very inspiring and encouraging. 

How do you plan to expand your brand within the next few years?

I want to focus more on eveningwear and just keep improving myself and my designs. 

photographer KEITH MORRISON 
production & creative direction NO MATTER

Look 1
blouse & jacket KUNG KATHERINE

Look 2
dress & coat KUNG KATHERINE

Look 3

Look 4
shoes DIOR

Shop Kung Katherine here.