Since graduating from Parsons School of Design in 1995 (where she was named Designer of the Year), the Korean-born, New Jersey-bred Doo.Ri Chung has done quite well for herself in the notoriously tough fashion industry.
After a brief stint at Banana Republic Menswear ("I realized very quickly I'm not cut out for the repetition of corporate life") Chung spent six years working as lead designer for Geoffrey Beene. "It was a whole new world," Chung told us the first time we interviewed her several years ago. "It wasn't about administrative stuff and faxing your counterpart in China so much as it was about the creative aspect of it. You're paid to drape and sketch and it's just amazing."
Chung left Beene in 2001 to open the Soho store, Klee, where she refined the draped jersey silhouettes for which she has since become famous with her eponymous label, Doo.Ri (she shuttered Klee in 2003 after officially launching her line). "I'm not a designer that likes to construct, I'm a designer that likes to deconstruct by eliminating all lines and as many seams as possible," she explained of her technique. "That's one of the reasons I'm always drawn to jersey."
And women seem to be always drawn to this Jersey girl's creations, based on her skyrocketing success both commercially (the line is now carried in more than three dozen stores internationally) and artistically (Doo.Ri nabbed a $20,000 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award in 2004 - the same year she was filmed for the Douglas Keeve documentary "Seamless" - and went on to win both the CFDA/Vogue Fashion prize and the Swarovski Perry Ellis award for emerging Womenswear Designer in 2006).
This year, the diminutive designer has kept the upward trajectory going with a well-received fall collection that displayed her always-refined knack for figure-flattering draping, and unveiled a Gap Design Edition line of white shirts and dresses, which was launched with much hoopla, including billboard-sized posters of Chung in Gap store windows across the country, taking the fashion industry insider from "Who.Ri?" to "Oh, Doo.Ri!" with Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public.
The Fashion Informer caught up with the always-charming designer last week for an off-the-cuff Q&A. So, Doo.Ri...
What’s your favorite off-duty activity?
What’s the last book you read?
“Disgrace” by J.M. Coetzee.
What’s in heavy rotation on your iPod?
For music, my playlist called Pig Radio. But recently I’ve been into audio books; right now it’s “Anansi Boys” by Neil Gaiman.
What did you do last weekend, and what are your plans for this weekend?
Last weekend, I had brunch, went shopping for my niece’s first birthday and went to New Jersey for her first birthday. This weekend I’m making a wedding dress for a friend.
Favorite getaway spot?
Turks and Caicos.
Favorite character on “Ugly Betty”?
Betty’s nephew, for sure.
Tea or coffee?
What was your first job out of school?
Assistant menswear designer at Banana Republic.
What’s your favorite store in the world?
Takashimaya. It’s never overcrowded and I always love one thing in the store every time I go in.
What is your favorite work of art?
My recent favorite after visiting the Nasher Sculpture Center [at NorthPark Center in Dallas] is the “skyspace,” Tending (Blue) by James Turrell.
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
A raisin bagel with butter.
What’s your dream job (other than your current occupation)?
To own a flower shop.
When are you happiest?
When I’m inspired.
Tune in next Wednesday for Random Questions For...Patrick Robinson.