By Solinette Pich
Northwest Asian Weekly
Ever since I was a little girl, I would admire the beautifully made dresses displayed in the window of a certain boutique in Seattle. Whenever my parents would drive by this designer’s shop on Fourth Avenue, I would gaze in awe at the gorgeous couture dresses and the whimsical wedding gowns displayed behind the windows. Upon seeing this grand showcase for the first time, I knew that when I grew up, I would want my future wedding dress to be made by this Asian American fashion designer, who sees being Asian American as a perk and plus, that makes her stand out in the crowd . Her name is Luly Yang. Many have parents who want their children to pursue a certain major or career path, such as engineering, medical care, etc. Though Yang’s parents encouraged her to pursue what she was interested in, Yang says, “I recommend that they (parents and children) together do research on the careers parents are interested in and the careers the children are interested in. Together, they can make it a family project.”
Some of us may already know what career we want to pursue, and those of us who are starting college are one step closer in the journey towards our career. Her advice to students starting, “Go in with an open mind and make good friends – they’ll be lifetime friends.” And to this very day, she is still friends with people she met in college, like her roommate from Thailand who attended her wedding.
“I think college is when adult friendships develop and they last a lifetime.” Another piece of advice she has is “to maintain a second language, or learn one.” This would make you more competitive in the international workforce where Yang says in Europe many people speak three languages and that’s normal.
Yang attended college at the University of Washington (UW), and absolutely loved it. “I appreciate the holistic education where it’s not just targeted towards your area of interest… I think it creates a holistic approach to life – that life is not all about one thing.” And she adds with a chuckle, “When you come out of university, you learn that pretty quickly.” She would definitely recommend the UW and says, “They have a great art school.”
Though the UW still does not offer a fashion design program, Yang still became a fashion designer without a fashion degree. If someone is interested in the fashion industry, Yang’s advice is, “Research.” And she says, “When one gets old enough, I would recommend an internship…You can’t really learn just from seeing it from the outside.” She also recommends to keep learning and to find mentors.
But to start, a fashion brand is “actually very difficult to build….Anybody can go out and say, ‘I have a brand,’ and just make up a name.” According to Yang, there are two parts to making a brand, “business and product – and those are two completely different things.” She says the hard part is “branding yourself…which takes some experience and some expertise in communication and marketing.” She also adds, “It would be nice to find a partner who is good at what you’re not.”
As for up-and-coming trends, she says, “The timeless trend is always being yourself, and not following whatever everyone else is doing. But for every season, there’s always something that works for everybody. I would say the trend is what you really feel.”
Her design plans for next season include color blocking and high-contrast colors. Her other future plans include expanding her brand to a broader market, and making knitwear and accessories, and leather goods.
It would have been a dream-come-true for Yang to dress Audrey Hepburn. She says, “She’s one of my favorites. I like everything about her – her personality, her beauty, and her whole life she has done good things. It would have been an honor to dress her!” But sadly, Audrey Hepburn is no longer alive.
Yang not only loves fashion, but food as well.
“I like dim sum. I always go to Jade Garden and I go to Purple Dot,” she says about her favorite restaurants in the International District. There is one restaurant that she loves that is no longer open.
“I’m sad about Sea Garden being gone. And I would like to know where the chef is, so I can follow him to his next place.” The Tamarind Tree is another restaurant she loves as well. But there is one thing she declares she can’t live without, “Uwajimaya…I can’t live without it.”
Lastly, here are some words of wisdom she has to offer, “Do what you love and what you’re passionate about. And use your gift and talent to make the environment, and the world a better place.” (end)
Solinette Pich can be reached at email@example.com.