Whenever Lee Ju-yeon appears on a runway or at fashion events, she lights up the room with her delicate yet mighty presence. With her strong and beautiful facial features and ballerina-like body, she is the fashion’s ‘dazzling swan’. She walked the runway for countless designers, including Mabel Brempong, Vleeda, Blank Seoul, Studio Seong, R.Shemiste, Vibrate and Daily Mirror (don’t mistake it for the English newspaper). She was recently present at Rich Cast of Characters‘ event in Bangkok – Thailand, where she presented some of the company’s shoe designs.
Even though a modelling career in South Korea is a full-time job at times, many models search for more than just that. They mostly have ambitions to expand their creative horizons and design their own things; Lee Ju-yeon is no exception. She herself loves to design candles, defusers as well as graphics illustration for clothing. This year has been busy for the model; nevertheless, Ju-yeon kindly found time to speak to us about her career, beauty regime and fashion in general.
You have been present in the fashion business for a while now – what made you decide to pursue a career as a model in the first place?
Usually, most models say they decided to become a model because it is good to walk on the runway. But to me, I just really love fashion! (laughs). That’s the main reason why I wanted to be a model – I wanted to wear lots of pretty clothes.
You work as a model as well as designer – how do you manage the balance between your professional and personal life?
I think my professional life is that of a model and my personal life is that of a designer, but they complement each other somehow. If I get stressed because of modeling, I release my stress by looking at pretty design goods or go to a design exhibition. It works the other way as well; if I get stressed while creating designs, I am relieved of the stress while working as a model. Feeling the pleasant atmosphere of a photo shoot or by taking good pictures makes me relaxed too. Sometimes I travel alone; I am happy when I meet new people in new places and feel the surroundings. It gives me the power to come back and keep my work going.
You design candles and diffusers, what else do you like to design? Where do you take your inspiration from?
Besides candles and diffusers, I have been designing graphic illustrations for clothing. I like typography design very much. A well-arranged and designed font makes me feel happy. It can be applied to clothes, fashion or any type of designs. I like to look at packages of novel designs, I often look up on Pinterest or Instagram for reference. And if I see a similar design while I’m shopping, I rarely pass by it. (Laughs)
What is your favourite thing to do on a day off?
To be honest, my favourite thing to do is rest – to get up late and lie on the bed and eat chocolate. (Laughs) I like meeting with friends and drinking beer or going to a cafe.
Let’s talk about your beauty regimen: how do you keep yourself healthy? Do you have any tips for our readers?
This may be too much information. (Laughs) I originally weighed around 73kg when I was preparing for a design college. I wanted to be a model, so I had a harsh diet. The correct answer is simple and fixed, we all know it: eat less, exercise more. I used to exercise every day at the gym for three hours a day and ate one meal a day. If I have to do it again, I wouldn’t. (Laughs) Nowadays, I have a set of rules and I try to eat a lot of fruit. I walk a lot and try to exercise every day. To sum up, the most important thing is not to be stressed; I eat the food I want, but eat small portions. Funny enough, I do not use elevators. (Laughs) You should also never use the excuse that you do not have time to exercise; exercising is important.
Fashion trends are ever-changing. Which fashion trends were your favourite this year – did any of them really match your personal style?
I think that the street fashion trend has been strong in 2018. Items such as waist bags, penny packs, and Ugly shoes are the best items. I like to mix match street styles. Wear sweatshirts in fur jackets, frilly skirts, hooded t-shirts, waist bags and so on.
Modelling industry is known to be harsh; how do you perceive Korean modelling industry? Is there anything you really wish would change?
I think the modelling industry is really harsh. I want everyone to work and get paid right and well. I would like to change the perception that we should always wait and be chosen by companies. I love my agency, they try to bring out what I like and help me to do what I like with modelling work. All models should be not complacent with the status quo and find something they like and do well. It will be a weapon to make yourself strong as a model.
Is there any habit you follow before you walk out on the stage or in front of a camera for a fashion shoot?
Confidence is most important. Before I walk out on stage, I put a spell on it: “I’m the coolest in this show”. However, in front of the camera for a fashion shoot, I am very serious because I really focus on the shoot and think a lot how to pose or think of a mood etc.
What do you think is your greatest strength as a model?
I like my eyes. I think my eyes express a hazy atmosphere well, and as I said before, I like clothes very much, so I think I can wear or express the details of clothes well.
Do you see yourself strictly as a model or do you ever feel the pull to create fashion designs yourself?
I would like to think that I would create something someday. (Laughs)
Which part of your job as a model do you find the most difficult? And which is the most rewarding?
As I mentioned in Q7, it is sad to always have to wait and be chosen. When I make an appointment, it always changes, and I sometimes worry that I can’t have a fixed income or a job. But it’s okay because I live the life that I want. The most rewarding thing is when I see a successful photo shoot and when the Fashion Week is over. I feel somewhat happier; perhaps it is also because I usually travel afterwards. (Laughs)
American designer Bill Blass once said, “When in doubt, wear red.” Red is generally established as the colour that brings out confidence. Which is the colour – or colours – you find yourself the most comfortable wearing, and which colour(s) give you confidence?
It’s gotta be black; I like black very much. I used to wear black clothes only so I was given the nickname ‘witch’ (laughs). Black colour’s atmosphere is good and it goes well with everything, and it is also elegant. Black gives me confidence and comfort. l really love black!
As modelling career is relatively short; do you have any plans for the future when you leave modelling?
I’m probably going to continue designing. It is my ultimate dream to create an editorial shop and a cafe with candles, diffusers and special design accessories that I designed later in the future. When I achieve my dream, please visit my shop! (Laughs)
We’d like to thank A.Conic for their assistance in the interview and to Lee Ju-yeon who kindly took the time to answer our questions. We are surely going to update our readers as soon as Lee Ju-jeon opens her shop to the world!
Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Sanja Struna
Featured photo © Courtesy of the photographer
Video from Seoul Fashion Week 2018 © A.Conic and its videographer
Photos from Seoul Fashion Week 2018 © A.Conic and its photographer
Lee Ju-yeon’s photo against the red background © Kin Sang/Studio Kin Sang
All other photos © Courtesy of the photographer