Illustration : Olivia Wong
Interview : SPITZ
CN : Essy Chiu
Fleamadonna，跳蚤麥當娜…多麼有趣的名字！說它是眾多時裝品牌中最有個性的名字相信也沒有異議吧。但這個攪鬼的名字究竟有什麼意思？誰又如此幽默取了這個名字？ 這與宗教有沒有什麼關係？ 我們今期與這個攪笑又充滿創意的品牌設計師做了一個專訪，Spitgan第二期來了！
Fleamadonna. Isn’t that like the illest name for a fashion brand? What is it? What diabolical mind would come up with something like that? What does this creator eat to invent such twisted deities? Is there a whole pantheon of other demi-god relations? Is there a Marvel Universe of these holy personas? This is a story we wanted to get to the bottom of even before the supernova, that was the birth of SPITGAN. Finally, issue 2, here it is!
English continued after Chinese >>
fleamadonna : jei
SP: 好吧， 可否向我們介紹一下你自己？
我在首爾的Myong Ji Colleage修讀時裝設計。
FM： 當然是Madonna, 還有Kylie Minogue。
Wooyoungmi、Juun J是國際品牌。FM始於2007年， 那時韓國沒有太多像FM的品牌，現在就有很多了。而Andre Kim現時在韓國很紅，但他不是國際品牌。
是的， 我們的基地位於Gangnam區, Gangnam意指…這與歌星PSY無關， Gangnam區很富有很豪華，其實現時在Gangnam有很多不是太貴但充滿個性的本土品牌時裝店，雖然當人們說到Gangnam時， 總會聯想到貴價。
一些真正能演出而不是虛有其別的藝人， 像Miley Cyrus，我曾經用過她的音樂做T台上的背景音樂。
沒有，開始fleamadonna時我很喜歡Madonna, 所以在名字上可能受她的影響， 但就是如此而已。
像世上第一個女性， 你知“primadonna”. P. R. I…
SP：當Spitgan第一次聽到這個品牌已十分喜歡， 覺得它非常有創意， 更立刻第一時間將之人物化。
我本來想用Madonna這個名字， 但因為已有歌星Madonna的存在所以不大可能。Madonna這個名字會讓你立即聯想到女性， 當然我也很喜歡這個字的發音， 它聽起來真的很cool。
SP：所以說她不是Yeezus (Kanye West的同名大碟）的母親？？
SP：好了， 玩笑開完， 說回時裝吧， 我第一次發現FM是在日本時裝週中， 為什麼會選擇在日本展出？
是的， 粉紅、黑色， 及一些鮮豔的顏色。
不一定是clubwear， 我的粉絲大部份是20到30歲，明顯地她們不會在辦公室穿著我的設計， 但不一定只限於去派對時穿著。
在2013秋冬系列中， 因要配合主題， 我大量採用了假的物料如假皮草假皮革， 同時我用了很多圖案。
一個原本很富有擁有很多時裝的女孩， 因為某些原因不再富有， 於是她在祖母的衣櫃中找了些舊衣飾， 然後重新整理變成了她的最新時裝。
我任何時候都希望追求更好的，每季都會有新的布料出現 ， 現時我是覺得滿意的， 當然亦希望不斷進步。
秋冬系列是以一個女孩不再富有的故事為背景， 所以我用上了那麼多假物料， 但並不代表我完全反對使用這些物料。我會說因應不同情況而適量使用， 舉個例子， 如果我以真皮草製作這個系列其中一件曳地皮草大衣，那便有點那個了。
要看每季不同的時裝系列而定， 若果該季需要飾物配合，我會製作，但若果沒有需要的話， 則不會。
現時我們仍是一個小型公司，一年兩個系列對我們來說已是很大的工作量， 將來我們有更多人手的話， 我想會推出一些特別系列。
也不一定， 有時這些系列的出現不是一個壞點子， 因為對於一些顧客來說， 要等六個月才有新的時裝出現時間是有點過長。
暫時不會， 反而我會想花多點功夫在珠寶、飾物設計上， 可以用來配時裝系列的。
我這兩季的飾物是與韓國一個飾物品牌Golden Chix的設計師Soonmi Kim合作推出的， 她為我們設計了2013秋冬及2014春夏系列的飾物。而是2014春夏的運動鞋則是與一位韓國鞋履設計師Suecomma Bonnie合作的。
那由一個中學少女開始，背景是70、80年代的加州， 你知道Ugly Betty嗎？ 這個少女就像是那種最初是一個很害羞及不懂時裝的女孩， 然後蛻變成一個性感而緊貼時尚的女人。這個系列分成兩部份， 前部份的她仍是一個害羞女孩， 後半部她已成為一個成熟女人。
SP：那很有趣， 你的系列通常都會分為兩部份嗎？ 2013、2014年的系列均是如此， 那是你的風格嗎？
並不然， 這些假設的故事讓我更容易設計不同風格的時裝。而且很多顧客看來很喜歡不同的故事， 一些擁有故事色彩的系列。
一個最近頗紅的鞋履品牌Reike nen 21, 及一個名為Casper Kang的流行歌手， 他同時是一名畫家。
SP：非常棒！all the best Jei, fleamadonna!我們密切期待你的動向！
English Continued >>
SPITGAN : What is your government name fleamadonna?
fleamadonna : Jei.
SG : Ok. Can you give us some background information? Your education? Did you study fashion?
Yes, I studied fashion. Textiles to be exact. Myong Ji College, Seoul.
SG : Where you always interested in fashion? What made you become a designer?
Yes, I always wanted to study fashion. Especially design. Its been a dream since I was young.
SG : What inspired that dream? Cartoons? A famous celebrity?
I usually am inspired by famous singers, artists.
SG : Like who? Who was an early style inspiration for you?
Oh Madonna…Kylie Minogue.
SG : Anybody Korean?
Faye Wong. There is this Hong Kong singer Faye Wong. You know?
SG : Oh hell yeah! Is Hong Kong music quite big in Korea? Used to be?
Not particularly, but I have a lot of friends in Hong Kong and they were the one’s that introduced me to her.
SG : When you started designing what were some of the big Korean brands?
Big international brands were Wooyoungmi or Juun J. There were not a lot of brands like fleamadonna then in 2007 when I started. Now there are a lot. There was a brand called Andre Kim. He was really big in Korea but not internationally.
SG : Is fleamadonna Gangnam style?
What do you mean?
SG : Gangnam is an area correct?
Oh yes. We are based in Gangnam. Gangnam means…well forget about PSY the singer, its quite posh and rich. At the same time there are a lot of local fashion stores that aren’t too expensive, but very unique and niche. Often when people talk about Gangnam it refers to richness.
SG : Is it fashion forward? Is it where the stylish come to shop?
Yes, its where the stylish come to shop. Gangnam is huge to be honest.
SG : What kind of music inspires fleamadonna.
Singers that do a lot of performance. Not just singers you know, like Miley Cyrus. I used Miley Cyrus for my catwalk.
SG : Is Hip Hop an influence?
She personally doesn’t really like the strong language or images Hip Hop singers use. She does enjoy some of the female artists though.
SG : Does fleamadonna celebrate Christmas?
No I really didn’t do anything special.
SG : Is fleamadonna a religious figure?
SG : Does she perform miracles or give blessings?
SG : Cuz I kind of interpreted the name fleamadonna to be a reference to a Jesus Christ. His mother was the Madonna right?
No not at all.
SG : So does she have super powers?
She doesn’t know.
SG : What is fleamadonna’s style. If you were to personify your brand name as a person. What style would it have?
If its about the fashion, fleamadonna, the person, seeks uniqueness in fashion. At the same time she wants to be very elegant and girlish. Not just cute, but different from others. Quirky, quirky is a good word.
SG : Obviously, fleamadonna is Korean. Is she related to Madonna the pop singer?
No not really. When I started, I really liked her so the name might have been an influence but no relation otherwise.
SG : Why the ‘flea’ part of the name?
Its more first woman. You know primadonna…P. R. I…
SG : Huh? Okay…
Cuz in Korean we pronounce it the same. The ‘flea’ is like ‘pri’…
SG : Ahhhhhh…..So in Korean you brand is pronounced ‘Primadonna’.
Yes. Everywhere else people pronounce it ‘fleamadonna’ but in Korea we pronounce it ‘primadonna’
SG : The reason I ask, is when I first saw your label. One of the first things I was drawn to was the name, ‘fleamadonna’. SPITGAN really liked the name. We thought it was very creative and original, it was different. We kind of imaged a character from the name.
SG : Is there a story of how you came up with the name? Where you thinking about it a lot? Did it just happen?
I thought about it a lot. I was sure I wanted to use ‘madonna’ but because of the singer it just couldn’t be that. I liked the word madonna because when you see the word it instantly means female, obviously. Also I like the sound of it, madonna. It sounded cool. I also liked the primadonna. As I mentioned the pronunciation in Korean was the same, so I named it fleamadonna.
SG : Ah and there it is! So she’s not the mother of Yeezus or anything like that?
No she doesn’t really like them.
SG : Ok enough with the jokes. Lets get back to more fashion related questions. We first discovered your brand through the Tokyo fashion collections. Do you show there a lot? Do you prefer to show there? Or was that an invitation?
Well, you know Tokyo is probably the biggest fashion city in Asia. So there are a lot of fans, a lot of buyers travelling there as opposed to Seoul or Hong Kong. In the beginning we were invited by a Japanese agency. They organized some shows…
SG : Was that the first time you showed there? I believe the collection was at least 2 seasons ago now.
We’ve done it twice. So the one you saw was probably the first one.
SG : Talk about the color palette you use. You are quite known for using certain colors?
Pink, black, something quite bright.
SG : Are you quite a fan of pink?
You mean Pink as the singer?
SG : Hahahah. No no, the color.
Yes I like pink a lot.
SG : Is this a youth line? Clubwear?
It is not specifically clubbing style. Most of my fans are in their early 20’s to early 30’s. So they wear them out. Obviously not to the office, but it doesn’t have to be clubs or bars.
SG : We were able to personally see your FW2013 collection at Harvey Nichols here in Hong Kong up close. We were surprised at some of the fabric choices, were they intentional?
For AW2013, I used a lot of fake. Fake fur, fake leather, because of my concept. I did quite a lot of prints as well.
SG : What was the inspiration for the FW collection?
Well the story was meant to be this really rich, wealthy girl who has a lot of clothes and stuff, but she somehow became poor. So she goes through her grandmother’s wardrobe and finds these vintage furs and leather skirts. She rearranges them for herself.
SG : How important is quality to you Jei?
As you can see my collection is quite pop. So the design is a big part. I would say half and half. Half design and half quality.
SG : Mmmmnn. Are you satisfied with quality levels you’ve achieved so far or do you hope it advances and progresses?
I am always looking for something better. There are always new fabrics coming out every season. I am satisfied but on the lookout to improve.
SG : The FW13 collection you mentioned was fake fur. Are there certain fabrics you won’t use? Is it a personal choice? Like the use of animal skin…
Just based on AW13, if you look at the concept its about a girl that went poor. So I used a lot of fake. It doesn’t mean I am against using real animal skin or fur. Lets take for example the floor length fur jacket in this collection. That I would not want to use real fur. Its just too much. I would say I will use in moderation.
SG : FW13 also had some great accessories like the gold necklaces and bracelets. Do you do a full range of accessories?
It depends on the collection. If I need something, say headbands, I will make them but if not, no.
SG : Do you design with a Korean style in mind or is it more of a global approach?
More of a international approach.
SG : How many collections do you do a year Jei?
SG : Do you feel resort lines or pre-spring lines are necessary?
Right now we are a really small company so doing two collections is hard enough. As we get more people to come on board, we may do special collections or some sort of exclusive ranges.
SG : Do you feel these between season collections are more of a money grab by big brands?
It depends on the brand. Its not a bad idea to have a pre-collection or whatever because there is a six month term between seasons. So it is quite a long time for the customers to wait.
SG : Have you ever designed a sneaker?
Yes I have for SS14.
SG : Any interest in doing menswear or bridal?
Not for now. If I could expand it would be more towards jewelry and accessories. Things that go with the collection.
SG : Now, being that everyone is doing crossovers. Do you have any planned?
The accessories we have, the jewelry, is a collaboration with this designer. We have done this for a few seasons. Golden Chix is the brand, the designer is Soonmi Kim. She did AW13 and SS14. For the trainers in SS14 we collaborated quite a big shoe brand in Korea, Suecomma Bonnie.
SG : Are you the sole designer of fleamadonna, Jei?
SG : Please tell us about your SS14 collection.
Its starts with a high school girl. California in the 70’s or 80’s. Do you know Ugly Betty? It comes from this type of girl who’s really shy and not into fashion who then later on blossoms into this sexy, fashionable girl. The collection seperates into two parts, when she’s young and not into fashion, and when she’s grown up, a lady.
SG : Interesting. Do your collection ideas always have two parts? FW13 was about a rich girl that somehow became poor, and now SS14 is a girl not into fashion then grows up into fashion? Is this a theme of yours?
Not really. For any collection to have a story its just better for me to design a lot of different styles. Also the customers seem to like a lot of stories, collections with stories. So its good to have stories.
SG : Can you give us 5 designers, artists, personages or brands you are interested in right now?
There’s a shoe brand becoming quite famous called, Reike nen. 21, the pop singers and a painter called Casper Kang.
SG : Coolio. Well all the best Jei, fleamadonna. We’ll be watching!