This year’s Paris Couture Week featured a very special presentation – an ethereal exercise in Gothic detailing, leather tailoring, and organza draping. Hyun Mi Nielsen, the ambitious contemporary fashion brand founded by Danish designer Christine Nielsen, received the great(est) honor of being invited by the French Fashion Federation to show amongst the most conceptually and technically daring, and she rose skillfully to the occasion, stunning international press on the way. Cutting her teeth at renowned fashion houses like Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, and Givenchy as head womenswear designer, Nielsen is more than equipped to take the world. What’s next? DANSK sits down with Christine to learn more.
Where are you from, and what originally led you to fashion design?
I am Danish adopted from South Korea. I have always loved drawing and making things with my hands. As long as I can remember I have wanted to make clothes.
Who was your first mentor – and which experience (in either education or work) pushed your practice the most?
I can not call my mother a mentor – she is mum. But she was and is always supportive of me encouraging me to do what I want to do.
On a professional level of course working, if unfortunately only briefly, with Lee McQueen was a had a huge impact on me. But the person I probably learned the most from is Sarah Burton. She works with such vigour and attention to detail.
You’ve held prestigious positions at fashion houses like Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga. What is gained from working within a fashion house?
Apart from knowledge, discipline, experience, one of the great things about working for a luxury house is being able to see and feel the best fabrics, leathers and techniques on the market and develop new ones. Also working with amazingly skilled pattern cutters and drapers is heaven.
When did you realize it was time to launch your own brand?
When I left Balenciaga I took some time off to think about my work, who I had become and where I wanted to go. I have never wanted to start my own label. The thought never occurred to me until I was asked: “Why don’t you start your own?!”.
How did your invitation to Paris couture week come to be? What was your reaction?
The same person who suggested I should start my own visited me in my studio to have a chat and see how I was getting on. Her reaction was: ”People has to see this! Why don’t you apply to be on the official couture calendar?”. I remember thinking it was impossible. But sometimes the impossible is possible. I am grateful to the Federation de la Couture for their support and honoured to be invited as a guest member of the official couture calendar.
In your opinion, what is the relevance of couture today?
I feel that in a world that increasingly becomes more and more digital and 2D the craftsmanship and savoir faire of couture is relevant. Skill is important, knowing true quality is important. In the same way that you learn the alphabet to be able to write and express your self. What I love about couture is the expertise that is involved in its creation, the many different hands a garment has passed through – hands of experts who has poured all their skill, love and attention in to one garment.
Tell me about your collection – it seemed very personal and visceral.
My work means a lot to me. It is impossible for the work I do for my own label/HYUN MI NIELSEN not to be personal. We are such a close tiny little team – me, a junior assistant and an intern. This collection is made during spring and it reflects in the collection, it is more playful. The references/the inspiration is a mix of a lot of different things I love and felt right for this season like solstice, maypoles, Scandinavia, punks, black and white photos of folk costume, texture, volume and graphicism.
What is your relationship to the Danish fashion industry – how is it different from Paris?
Unfortunately I do not have any relationship with the Danish fashion industry, I would like to. I have friends who are connected to it. It is difficult for me to say how it is different as I have never worked in it.
What is the vision for Huyn Mi Nielsen – which part of the industry do you wish to occupy?
I hope to see my label grow, to get an investor would be amazing and I hope to expand my points of sale.
Interview by Jeppe Ugelvig
Portrait by Louise Dangaard
Runway images courtesy of h7o7Films
For more information, see Huyn Mi Nielsen