Known around the world for her couture creations, Kelly NG spoke exclusively with the WedLuxe Global Trend Report about how she got started in the industry, her signature design style, and the most elaborate gown in her latest collection.
When and how did you get started in the fashion industry?
After graduating as a top student in Fashion Design at Bunka Fashion Graduate University, one of the top five fashion schools in the world, I moved to Toronto to launch my fashion brand. I created my namesake couture brand and opened my showroom in downtown Toronto in December 2017. In less than a year, Kelly NG has garnered attention for dressing Oprah Winfrey and collaborating with London’s Damiani and the House of Garrard. Kelly NG is also the first Canadian designer to be featured on the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine, in the December 2018 issue (the biggest issue of the year). We’ve also been featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue Singapore, Tatler UK, and more.
Kelly NG has a reputation for designing beautiful custom-made gowns. Can you describe the process of creating a custom-made gown?
Kelly NG gowns are designed and tailored specifically for a customer’s style, measurements, and silhouette. After the design and fabric choices are confirmed, the Kelly NG team will take a customer’s measurements and draft patterns. Patterns will be adjusted multiple times until it’s perfect. All of our gowns are constructed by hand at our Toronto atelier/showroom. They are made from expensive, high-end fabric and constructed with extreme attention to detail, finished by the most capable sewer. It usually takes between 100 and 800 hours (sometimes even more) to make a gown and the process typically requires three fittings.
Tell us a little bit about your signature design style.
Kelly NG, the essence of sophisticated glamour, is revered for producing designs that are at-once feminine, contemporary, and perfectly unique. The haute couture brand is committed to innovation and the values of savoir-faire. With design and craftsmanship at its heart, each creation is skillfully designed and directional, combining art and technology to produce the most extraordinary of pieces.
From where do you draw your inspiration when designing a new collection?
Everything can inspire me; most of the time it just happens. It can be a scene that summons strong feelings, it can be a piece of art, architecture, a movie, a muse… everything and anything. Take my 2018-19 Autumn/Winter collection as an example, the collection is inspired by a scenic starry night in Maui, where I spent a brief winter vacation. As the sun went down, darkness slowly enveloped the landscape. When I looked up at the sky, it was full of bright flickering stars, where one could see thousands of pinpricks of lights. It was dark, peaceful, and quiet; everything seemed to be infinitesimal.
Do you accommodate customization requests from your brides?
Yes, everything can be designed from scratch. It’s couture after all!
When it comes to brides, what should they keep in mind when choosing a wedding gown?
Do research before visiting a showroom or bridal boutique to make sure they have what you are after. Limit your accompanying crowd to just one or two, or even better, go alone for a stress-free environment. It’s good to to be up-to-date with the latest trends, but it’s always best to choose something that you feel represents you as a person and reflects your individual style, as it is such individuality that makes you special. Choose a design that is true to you because it’s your big day.
How do you celebrate the release of a new collection?
The Kelly NG team is fully dedicated to haute couture. We always think about what to do next.
Do you have a favorite gown from your latest collection?
They are all my favorites, it’s hard to choose just one. Our draped gown, which elegantly wraps around the contours of the body, is one of my all-time favorites. Kelly NG possesses draping skills that other haute couture brands don’t have, due to its time-consuming, hand-executed nature. Some of our draped gowns can be constructed from up to 50 pieces, while mass-produced draped gowns can be constructed from as few as two pieces and international haute couture brands can construct draped gowns from around ten pieces.
What was the most elaborate gown you ever designed?
All Kelly NG gowns are elaborate and require different kinds of couture techniques. For example, the hand-painted floral gown with a plunging neckline in my latest collection features a scene of blooming hydrangeas and flying hummingbirds, as if they are celebrating the beauty of spring. This hand-painted floral gown looks simple and easy to produce, yet the hand painting part alone took 560 hours to finish. This cannot be done by textile printing due to its limitations. For example, all printing devices are limited as to how many colors they can reproduce. Besides that, this gown is constructed from four pieces, and the floral scenery on each piece is different yet they all must connect to each other. When two pieces are sewn together, every single flower petal, every single stroke, is connected perfectly on the seam from one piece to another… this cannot be done by mass production.
What is your favorite fashion trend at the moment?
Color tailoring. This is the season of Starburst suiting that runs the gamut in terms of colour and cut. Coats and jackets are coming out in bold, bright shades, and so are haute couture gowns.
What do you see coming in terms of bridal fashion trends for 2019?
Pants and jumpsuits, geometric lines, bows, glitter. Bridal fashion trends are always different from fashion trends as they are different industries, just like prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) is different from haute couture, although they are both in the fashion industry. Despite new trends, I believe most brides will stick to the colour white and choose either a classic lace gown or a modern and simple satin gown.
What is your favorite part about working in the fashion industry?
Thinking about what’s new, what’s next, and what can be done better is my favorite part of working in the couture industry.
Can you tell us one thing about Kelly NG that people may not know?
American cable networks HBO and PBS filmed a documentary on Kelly NG in New York City, which will be released in 2019.
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