For Yeohlee Teng design is universal. She believes that design comes from servicing a function and is refined through time and process. Her designs are driven by material, maximizing the use of each fabric by consideration weight, texture, color, and finishing. Through the process, Yeohlee "manages to synthesize style into a poetry about the possibility of fabric," states Richard Flood, Chief Curator of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. "The lines are clean and contemporary; the garments are made to animate - not freeze - the wearer."
Yeohlee Teng moved to New York from Malaysia to study fashion at the Parsons School of Design. She has worked primarily in New York City and established her own house, YEOHLEE inc in 1981. Yeohlee believes that "clothes have magic." She dresses the "urban nomad", a term she coined for her Fall 1997 collection, defining a lifestyle that requires clothing that works on a variety of practical and psychological levels. She is a master of design management and believes in the efficiency of year-round, seasonless clothes. Yeohlee's designs have earned a permanent place in the Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the late Richard Martin, then Chief Curator, called her "one of the most ingenious makers of clothing today."
Exhibitions have been an important part of seeing and understanding the work. In 1998, YEOHLEE exhibited in the show "Energetics: Clothes and Enclosures" along with the work of architect Ken Yeang. The show paralleled the disciplines of architecture and clothing design. The exhibition began at the Aedes East Gallery in Berlin and traveled to the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam.
In spring of 2000, Yeohlee took part in "Mutations // Mode 1960 : 2000" at the Galleria Museum, the Fashion Museum of the City of Paris, along with designers Hussein Chalayan, Rei Kawakubo, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, and Yves Saint Laurent. The exhibition enabled the public to explore how new generations of fibers and fabrics have driven clothing design in the 20th Century. Later that fall, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London showcased the work in a static exhibition at the top of the Ceramic Staircase and a kinetic event entitled "Fashion in Motion". YEOHLEE pieces are on permanent display in the 21st Century Case of the museum's Dress Gallery.
"YEOHLEE : Supermodern Style", curated by Dr. Valerie Steele, opened at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in October 2001. The show clarified the relationship between clothing and the body, between the individual and the environment, and explained why Yeohlee's clothes have often been described as "intimate architecture."
In October of 2005, Yeohlee was in the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' "New China Chic" exhibition, which brought together diverse work from international designers of Chinese ancestry. This exhibition coincided with a dynamic presentation "YEOHLEE : Material Architecture" at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. YEOHLEE and the exhibitions were profiled in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, and WWD.
2006 began with the January exhibition "The Fashion of Architecture" at the AIA Center for Architecture in New York and continued in September's "Love and War" exhibition at the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles is currently exhibiting "Skin and Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture", featuring work by YEOHLEE and others, including: designers Alexander McQueen, Viktor & Rolf, Dries van Noten, Alber Elbaz, Junya Watanabe; with architects Herzog & de Meuron, Rem Koolhaas/OMA, Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, and Kazuyo Seijima/SANAA. The exhibition is accompanied by a large-format catalogue and will next travel to The National Art Center, Tokyo, in June 2007.
Her first book, YEOHLEE : WORK, was published in 2003 by the Images Publishing Group, Australia. The book surveys designs spanning the first 20 years and is anchored by the various exhibitions in which the house has participated, with essays by prominent fashion, art, and design critics and curators. It is comprehensively illustrated with color still life and runway photographs, some accompanied by original sketches and patterns.
NATIONAL DESIGN AWARD
Yeohlee was nominated with fashion innovators Marc Jacobs and Narciso Rodriguez for the 2004 Fashion Design Award by the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, for which she was awarded the prize for her body of design and her contribution to American fashion excellence. Yeohlee joined recipients from all design fields for a reception at the White House in April 2005.
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NATIONAL DESIGN AWARD
Yeohlee Teng is the recipient of the Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Fashion Design in 2004. For more information, please visit the Cooper Hewitt website at: