February 1, 2019
by Liana Satenstein
Yeohlee Teng has a book, simply titled Yeohlee: Work, that showcases her past designs and sits at the entrance of her store. It documents her exhibitions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, mostly showing her application of geometry in clothing and belief in zero-waste production. The book also includes collections of the ’90s, which include cameos by Stella Tennant, Esther Cañadas, and Alek Wek.
Sustainability has long been an essential aspect of Teng’s work, but it has come full circle this season, with the designer creating pieces that incorporate fabrics from as far back as the early ’90s. A double-faced silk that was used in evening dresses and capes back in 1993 now acts as the fabric in a box-sleeve jacket, and the highlighter yellow of a maxi skirt came from a man’s sarong that Teng made for a party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2003. Teng also used excess fabric to make other pieces. In December, she posted a photo to Instagram with the caption “Contemplating the scraps . . . ” They were eventually made into a nubby tank top and the stripes on tuxedo pants.
Sometimes, Teng’s conceptual approach isn’t apparent to the naked eye. One waffled wool coat looked like a normal robe on the body, but when it was placed on the ground, it was a perfect circle. Teng pointed out that the sleeves were crafted out of old, unused material. The idea of using leftovers works for Teng, and for many years it has looked quite chic. Maybe it’s a formula that larger, more commercial companies can adopt.