Yoon Ambush takes us inside her working process for Ambush x Bulgari

3 months ago 141
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“They’re just beautiful,” Yoon Ambush croons from across the screen. “There are snake cafes in Tokyo where you can play with them while sipping on coffee. I was never scared of them, just needed to rediscover their beauty…” We are talking about the Tokyo-based fashion designer’s collaboration with Bulgari for their limited-edition range of handbags and accessories which sees a reinterpretation of the Bulgari Forever bag all titled ‘Serpenti Through the Eyes of Ambush’. With oversized rose-tinted glasses, a Barbie pink sweater, peroxide blond bob, dark roots peeking and a pop-art inspired Zoom backdrop, Ambush's aesthetic is meant to send shockwaves to the storied Italian luxury brand’s design language.

Deliberating on the house’s iconic snake motif, Ambush has deep-dived into her research of reptiles, particularly pythons. The resulting Ambush x Bulgari collection has an instant can’t-look-away appeal. Vibrant colours, lush curves, industrial hardware and slight touches of gems altogether make for the kind of bags street style photographers love obsessing over. "When you look at Bulgari jewellery, they [Bulgari team] know how to play with big, beautiful stones and it all just embodies that spirit of boldness. So I think the Bulgari customer will appreciate this collection in a new way. I can also see a new customer that always looked at Bulgari but wanted something they could relate to to be interested in these,” Ambush explains how the new lineup can attract both old and new customers.

Ahead of the big launch, Vogue spoke to the designer—who occasionally moonlights as a DJ—on her creative process for Ambush x Bulgari.

What is the Yoon ‘element’ in this collection?

When Bulgari approached me they were clear they wanted to do something about the Serpenti bag. I have a lot of respect for what they do. Their structure is very rigid and I wanted to move away from that and bring in more colour. Snakes embody that kind of movement and stuff so I wanted to make it more playful and that was the touch I brought into the collection.

How have you played around with the materials?

Because I wanted to make it softer and different to touch, I worked on that with the production team. In terms of colours, they are inspired by tree pythons—it gives off that hyper artificial colour vibe but in real life, that kind of snake exists in those colourways in nature. To me, it was about celebrating the beauty of that snake. To give the fluidity, I covered the head of the snake with leather. It’s an adorable snake head, if you look closely, it’s really cute. The eyes are finished with onyx and pearls.

You collaborate often with many big names in the industry. How does it feel to have a role to play in the zeitgeist?

It’s a very interesting role. The fact that you can bring something to the table and the world’s watching—there’s some pressure. I try not to focus on that too much, it’s more like how can I bring something and have people notice it in a different light? I focus on that matter and maybe perhaps reintroduce things people might be familiar with—and that’s my job as a designer—to tell a different story with it. It’s the same thing with the Bulgari bag, the bag existed and has a long history, but I created a different story with it. It’s the same with other collaborations and other houses that I work with.

We live in that era where fashion is democratic, it is a part of pop culture. As a designer, reality is important to me. I don’t just make things to exist in museums. If I am making something, in half a year will it still be relevant, is it going to matter?

What’s the story that you’re telling this season with the bag?

I like animals, but I had never really paid attention to snakes until this collaboration came in. I kind of had to fall in love with the snake—which is how it all started with me going into detail about so many different colours and species. I was looking at how pythons sleep on trees and tried to bring that movement into the bags.

How did you get into designing?

It’s a long story, but I was a heavy clubber in the early 2000s. Back then, before the Instagram era, besides the culture and music there was this art of dressing up, showing up—so jewellery played an important role in decorating myself, to be loud. Through that I met people who made jewellery, and I had ideas. 

What is your process?

After a while you have intuition, it’s in your gut. And you know what you’re feeling is because of what you notice in the world. Then it's like what can I bring out from this feeling? Previously it was about rushing onto the next thing. What's happening now made me stop and think of what else matters. I do what I love, I don’t think a lot of people can say that they love their jobs. I work hard to be where I am and it's a good place.

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