5 Questions With Paris-Based Fashion Designer And 'A Queen Within' Alum Hideki Seo
Combining both fashion and art, Hideki Seo has created a mark on fashion that has reached all over the world, including St. Louis. Most recently, select works by the designer were featured in the World Chess Hall of Fame’s breathtaking fashion exhibition, “A Queen Within.” He is currently playing double duty as the Assistant Designer to Mr. Azzedine Alaia—considered one of the most respectable Paris fashion design houses—as well as developing his career as a sculptural fashion artist.
Not only is he a man of exceptional talent, but Seo is perhaps one of the most down-to-earth creatives we have had the pleasure of speaking with. When he booked a last minute flight to St. Louis from Paris to celebrate the launch of friend Susan Barrett’s new venture, Barrett Barrera, we were thrilled to have the chance to sit down with the designer exclusively and get the scoop.
ALIVE: You began your career as a graphic designer; what made you switch gears and focus on fashion?
Hideki Seo: When I was graphic designer I traveled through many places throughout Europe and Africa. The differences in each culture fascinated me, and those differences were the most apparent in their clothing. I decided that I wanted to work with clothing immediately after that and quit my job to begin searching for schools. Anthwerp is such a quiet city; I loved learning there (at the Royal Academy), but it was very hard. My first year there were 60 students in the fashion program and by the end there were only seven.
ALIVE: You were recruited by Azzedine Alaia after you graduated. Could you tell us how that came about?
HS: Mr. Alaia was a juror at our final presentations and he really liked my work. After that he contacted me to propose that I work there.
ALIVE: What is your plan for the development of your career in fashion?
HS: The first part of my job is as the assistant to Mr. Alaia. I love his work, and I love it there. I am doing fashion there of course. And then at the night time, or on the weekend or holiday, I am doing my other career, where I succeeded to go beyond the category of fashion. At the beginning it was very difficult. I was making these sculptures and thinking, “What am I doing? I am in fashion,” but I wanted to make a special forum which is not possible to make for a garment.
ALIVE: Of your sculptural creations, do you have a favorite piece?
HS: It would be the very first piece I created as a response to the earthquake that had happened in Japan (2011). It’s called “Switching On Even Small Lights In Our Too Dark Heart.” I thought I could do something to make people happy.
ALIVE: What is some valuable advice that Mr. Alaia has shared with you that has assisted you in your own career?
HS: He always says you can’t teach anything within a mold for fashion. He showed me his life as a great creator, which teaches me the right attitude to have about creating. Never compromise. He’s like a father-figure to me.
More exclusive access with Hideki Seo coming soon!