Up-and-coming Canadian designer Amanda Lew Kee, 22, may just be breaking into the fashion industry but she is breaking in with a serious bang! The edgy young designer has been interested in perusing a career her whole life and started living her fashion-fueled dreams in 2008 with her very own jewelry. One thing lead to another and before Amanda knew it, she was launching her first women’s ready-to-wear collection at Toronto’s LG Fashion Week! Amanda’s work is also getting some street cred: she has worked with everyone from Shenae Grimes and Keri Hilson to the cast of HBO’s True Blood. It’s definitely not hard to see why Amanda’s taking off in the industry.
Amanda’s clothing as an undeniable edge to it, completely reflecting Amanda’s own personal style, which includes rocker-chic leathers, black ripped T-shirts and wild blue lipstick! The idea behind her clothing? “Youth culture meets fashion basics with the comfort of athletic wear.” She wants her accessories to maintain that same wearable edge that her women’s line has, noting “refined ease, lifestyle driven” as the inspiration enabling her jaw-dropping accessories line.
Amanda’s growth as a designer is innate: looking back at her past collections, one can truly see that Amanda has learned so much through just a few short years spent in the industry. While Amanda admits, “There [are] different parts of each collection that [she] love[s] and hate[s],” she definitely has her favorites. After all, she is always designing with her personal style in mind! The designer explains, “I love the metallic fur pieces from SS11, the versatile zip-on and off attachments from FW11 that allowed for numerous looks per garment easily taking a tailored jacket from day to night, my city prints from SS12, and my personal aesthetic seen in FW12.”
Amanda Lew Kee is an incredible designer and one to watch. Her designs are unique and edgy while still being completely wearable. With Amanda Lew Kee’s clothing you are getting garments that are high fashion and sophisticated but also extraordinarily detailed—it is clear they have been crafted with love. When Amanda designs she always wants to find “an underlying message,” something that can inspire her design process and spark new ideas. Amanda has had a very wide range of underlying messages for her past collections (spring/summer 2011 was Canadian Retreat, fall/winter 2011 was Natural Disaster) but there is one underlying message that runs pure and true through everything she makes: love!
Want to learn more about Amanda Lew Kee? Keep reading for CK’s interview with the talented designer.
CocoKouture: Who are your favorite designers?
Amanda Lee Kew: Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, Philip Lim, Alexander Wang.
CK: What celebrities do you see wearing your clothing?
ALK: Shenae Grimes
CK: What kind of women do you design your clothing for?
ALK: Confident women on their days/nights off- who appreciate wearability, versatility, and unique design.
CK: You started out as a jewelry designer and then created a clothing line (congratulations!). Was creating a clothing line always your dream?
ALK: Women’s RTW was always a goal of mine. The jewelry line was a great tool to test the market and to learn how to run a business. My end dream would be a lifestyle empire from clothing to skin care and cosmetics, shoes and handbags, fragrances, and home design.
CK: Do you wear your own clothing? Which piece(s) do you like best?
ALK: Yes, always! I often design with my personal taste in mind. Studded nappa leather jacket, fw10. Silk dual-layered maxi dresses, ss11. Silk black maxi dress with rosettes as well as the jackets from fw11. Anything printed from SS12. Everything that I designed for Shenae and everything from the FW12 collection!
CK: What has been your proudest moment as a designer so far?
ALK: I’ve been very fortunate to experience many surprises and proud moments so far. A few of my most memorial and influential moments would be the moments after my shows when I can celebrate and wind down with friends and family, as well as when I made my moved to New York.
CK: What is one thing that aspiring fashion designers don’t know about the industry?
ALK: It’s not all glitz and glam.
CK: What is your advice for aspiring fashion designers?
ALK: Work in the industry and figure out which parts you love and which parts inspire you. Not everyone is cut out to be in the forefront, there are many roles in fashion that aren’t highlighted as often as designing clothing (i.e. textile design, production management, illustrating, sales and pr).
CK: What is the design process like for you?
ALK: I find an underlying message that I would like to convey (fw’10- death and decay/ reconstruction. ss’11- tranquility of a Canadian retreat, fw’11- natural disasters/ recourses, ss’12- generic cities. fw’12- back to basics) and research online, through books, films, music, anything that stimulates the senses- I then source fabrics and finalize the looks.
CK: You work closely with the entertainment industry—what has your experience been like working with HBO’s True Blood, Deadmau5 and Keri Hilson?
ALK: Collaborative projects with other artists keep my work exciting and spontaneous! I hope to be designing with passion and inspiration throughout my whole career.
CK: What is inspiring you for fall/winter 2012?
ALK: For fw’12 I brought the look back to my basic. Blue Lips and a palette of black textures.