Hailing from Hong Kong and Galway, Zoe Carol Wong is part of the new wave of Irish designers brazen enough to be launching their own self-titled fashion collections regardless of the climes we live in. After graduating from Parsons in New York, and working for fashion labels such as TSE and Pour La Victoire, Zoe progressed into retail and then back into fashion. Now on her second collection, her SS14 pieces channel 1960’s lines with a neutral white palette and sharp cuts and lines that underplay the implicit femininity in each item. We grabbed Zoe to ask her what it’s like to be starting out on your own design label, and why she returned to the purity of white.
Where did you get inspiration for this collection and how did you end up with a white colour palette? I had a week-long obsession with Valley Of The Dolls, the 1967 Mark Robson movie, just around the time when I started my research for the Spring/Summer 2014. For those seven days all I thought about was the girls in the film. I wondered what would have happened if they were happy and what they would have worn. The silhouette was inspired by the lines of the 1960’s, but the colour palette (or lack thereof) was totally accidental. I was wrecking my head trying to nail down a colour palette, when out of nowhere I felt it was better to wash it clean. Simplicity for that moment was the stronger voice.
This is your second collection – what was the hardest thing to get together to create it? Logisitics-wise what’s the hardest part of starting to work on a new collection? Oddly this was the least complicated of all the projects I’ve done to date. I think I made up my mind at the beginning to only do what came naturally, not force anything. It was a great feeling to run on instinct – sometimes you can feel like you need to please everyone in fashion. It was still scary working by the fly of my pants though. The most difficult part was managing to put my own design demons to rest, and have some faith that it would work out. I learned a lot in the process.
Do you feel like it’s a good time to be doing this here? Without a doubt. After life in New York I said if I could make it there, I could make it anywhere. Now, knowing I have survived Ireland in this economy, I know I can make it anywhere. There’s a real resilience in Dublin right now. On a political and economic level I think we all feel let down, but I think we draw strength from each other. It’s all the other amazing talents and creatives in Dublin that really nurture my craft. Creatives are banding together and the encouragement and support I experience makes me emotional on a smiling, teary-eyed level!
What’s your favourite item from your SS14 collection? That’s like asking a mother which is her favourite child. As cruel as the question is, I can answer that all the pieces serve different functions. It’s Spring right now, so my bets are on the long-sleeved polka brocade dress. It’s just short enough for bare legs and cut to flatter. It’s got that 60’s sense of demure fun so I would pair it with gold ballet flats, not so big hoop earrings and hair loosely piled high. Gorgeous and the way Neely O’Hara would have done it.
How do you get yourself into work-mode? 8 hours sleep and Food. If I’m hungry I can’t work. I get “hAngry” but once I have a full tummy then the working world is my oyster. I work simply and quietly. Penny, my dog, watches David Attenborough so that is on low in the background, but other than that all I need is jasmine tea, my i-products (iPhone, Mac, and ipad) and my sewing machines, and I’m good to go!
Zoe Carol Wong @ZoeCarolW
Zoe Carol is stocked in Atelier 27, First Floor, 27 Drury Street, Dublin 2.
Roisin Agnew @Roxeenna