Korea is a hot spot for fashion as of late thanks to hip clothing brands such as pushBUTTON and Low Classic. Aside from ready-to-wear, the country also has some notable jewellery designers, among them Il Jung Lee of Feverish.
Il Jung was raised in Korea, Germany and England and graduated from Central Saint Martin’s in 2008 (in the same year she won the Goldsmiths’ Company Jewellery Award).
Feverish was launched in 2012 and immediately became a hit with street style stars thanks to its eye-catching designs that are bold and brash. Feverish’s playful and psychedelic creations may be ornate but they have an understated elegance about them.
We had the opportunity to meet Il Jung recently to discover more about her path into jewellery design and why more is always better! Read on to find out more.
How did you get into jewellery design?
I loved making things when I was a kid, from drawing to painting. I always knew I would major in something related to the art or design fields. By the time I was at high school in England I started researching schools and Central Saint Martin’s came up. I was intrigued so I applied. When I actually got to study, I found the idea of being an independent jewellery designer more and more exciting.
You chose to create costume jewellery rather than fine pieces – why?
I was always attracted to the quirkier side of art and design. Anya Hindmarch, for example, is one of my favourite designers. For me, jewellery should dictate your style. It should draw attention.
How would you described the Feverish style?
Every piece is sculptural, but has its own character thanks to the way I combine different materials. The pieces are very playful but at the same time elegant. It’s not kitschy – it’s still delicate and sophisticated. I like to wear big jewellery and make big jewellery so I also make sure its comfortable to wear and not too heavy.
How do you start off each collection?
At Central Saint Martin’s they train you to work through the process – so it always starts in my sketchbook. Every collection I make is a powerful series of designs inspired by an animal. I am fascinated by animals – I love that they can be interpreted in different ways.
When I start on an animal, I go to the zoo, sketch and really observe them. Their movements, characteristics and textures lend itself naturally to jewellery design. Every season I combine one animal with a theme – be it punk or art deco. I’ve done a punk crocodile or Art Deco elephant. I love to play around.
Your success has very much been connected to the street style movement – do trends also dictate your work?
There isn’t just one trend out there so I try to develop my own trend within my brand and then to create a group of loyal customers who become obsessed. My jewellery is collectible.
In 2014 you launched a diffusion line Feverish & Naughty – tell us about it.
It’s a completely different concept that is based around traditional fashion accessories, so it’s very affordable. The designs are inspired by children being naughty so it’s more fun. One of my main motifs for example was naughty little angels. Another best-seller is our paint splashed pearls.
This spring/summer you have designed a collection with Swarovski, exclusively for Asia. Tell us about your favourite pieces.
The 13 piece collection is inspired by butterflies and Surrealism. The idea is that the wearer can play with the butterflies. Because of this the butterflies almost look alive on each of the pieces which include necklaces and rings. Their wings are set at different angles; some butterflies are closer together than others. The pieces look like they are moving on the body. I’ve also done a cheetah series as well.
How has Korea inspired you as a designer?
I’m very much inspired by the sophistication here – if you look at a Korean palace, the architecture is very detailed and also very colourful, like my jewellery. Producing my pieces here has also been an advantage. Everything is handmade in Korea and some pieces take up to 12 hours to make.
What is your long term vision for Feverish?
I want only the most fashionable women to wear Feverish – women who want to be strong and different. At the same time I want to build a brand with a cult following. It’s like art. It’s like collecting something rare, that not everyone knows about.