Interview with Minika Ko

Denver-Art-Museum_Paper-Samurai-Dress_BTS3_Derek-Keenan_Minika-KoWe first heard about Minika Ko from our good friend Derek Keenan. He was partnering up with a fashion designer and friend from NYC to create a design for the annual Paper Fashion Show and when he told us about Minika and showed us her website, we knew we had to meet her!


1) When did you first realize that fashion was your passion? 

MinikaGrowing up, I always loved beautiful things. I was a pianist and cellist at young age, and I always enjoyed dressing up for my performances. In this way and more, fashion has always been integral to my life, but I never thought it could be my career until 2013, when I quit my job and traveled the world as part of a soul-searching journey. I read a biography of Alexander McQueen during this time, leading me to pursue a tailoring apprenticeship in Taiwan. Within three months of training, I won Elle Magazine’s New Talent Award, had my first runway show, and began an exhilarating journey working as a designer in France, Los Angeles, and, finally, New York City. I have been living my dream ever since. 

2) You are a well traveled and cultured designer! Are there any specific cultures that influence your design aesthetic?

Thank you. Certainly, my designs are influenced by the wonderful places I’ve visited and the amazing people I’ve met in the process. For example, upon landing in Denver, I immediately went to an art show, met many of the local artists, and soaked in the aesthetic of the vibrant scene. It’s such a refreshing experience. Most of all, New York City continues to be my source of inspiration, a cultural hub of beauty, chaos, and everything in between. 

3) You have a degree in music business as well as a degree in fashion. Do these 2 ever cross pollinate, connecting music and fashion and if so how? 

The beauty of music lies in its composition and timelessness, a trait I hope to achieve in my designs. In my design process, every style line and shape is carefully considered to ensure meaning and function, just like the notes from my sheet music. I aim for timeless, effortless designs, consciously harmonizing with influence from arts and music. 

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4) What is your design process when designing a new design? 

My creations are often inspired by music or other work of art, and are then fleshed out through a draping process, so that I can feel the fabric and visualize how it would flow on the body. With passions for classical music and contemporary art, my designs are often an intersection of tradition and modernity. Hito Steyerl’s Red Alert and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 are both inspirations for my upcoming ready-to-wear line, Kovasky.

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From Minika’s instagram


5) When you were visiting Denver for the Paper Fashion Show, what did you notice to be different as far as our street style compared to where you live in NYC? 

The street style of Denver was more laid back compared to NYC. The combination of urban and outdoor clothing created an inviting aesthetic environment, one that seemed wonderfully open-minded. 

6)  What were some of interesting and fun things that you noticed about your trip to Denver? It’s always fun hearing about visitors experiences in our city. 

I loved the vibrant art scene here in Denver, existing both in galleries and around the streets. Derek Keenan introduced me to many arises in the community and I was amazed by all of the passion and creativity!

7) How did you and Derek conceptualize your design for the Paper Fashion Show and what was your inspiration? 

Denver-Art-Museum_Paper-Samurai-Dress_BTS_Minika-Ko

Derek and I spoke on the phone many times both before and after my visit to Denver, determining the proper direction of work. I took over the conceptual design and silhouette of the dress, while Derek handled the texturing and detailing, such as laser cutting the papers.

The museum had asked us to create a samurai-inspired dress, and I felt right at home with that prompt. I grew up wearing kimonos and listening to my grandmother’s bedtime stories about samurai. One such story taught me that samurai would often wear exaggerated armor when they rode in the dark, so that their shadows would appear larger than life and scare of their enemies. Thus, I designed the exaggerated silhouette and sleeves to portray this concept and Derek completed an awesome headpiece to accompany the dress. We worked exceptionally well together. 

Denver-Art-Museum_Paper-Samurai-Dress_Runway_Minika-Ko

8) Where can we see this piece? 

The paper dress is on view at the Denver Art Museum through June 5th. You can also see pictures on our instagram @minika_ko and Facebook page: www.facebook.com/minika.ko

9) Where do you see yourself in the fashion industry in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? 

I will be launching my first women’s ready-to-wear line, Kovasky, during the New York Fashion Week in September. It’s a contemporary line that caters to forward-thinking, career-drive women, a group that has always inspired me. Also, with my tailoring background and studies of Couture techniques at FIT, I will continue to make custom gowns for private clients, something that I truly enjoy. 

In 5-10 years, I hope to establish Minika Ko as a sustainable, lifestyle brand, creating beautiful designs for women while also launching lines of Menswear, Children’s Wear, and Home, all while ensuring that the creations are responsibly sourced and produced. 

10) 3 things if stranded on an island.

Drinkable water, a fabulous dress made of mosquito-proof fabric by Minika Ko, and a lover if available. If not, lip balm would be nice.