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.
September 10, 2018
by Andrew Shang
Yeohlee’s starting reference was a far-reaching point from the impeccably constructed minimalist offering she put out for spring. She began by looking at the pigmentation behind metals and seashells, which led to the color-making process at Harvard’s Fogg art museum. That inspired her to inject cheery saffron, ginger and a multicolored checkered print into her typically stark wheelhouse.
“I think fashion is very informed by the times we live in,” she said after the show. “We’re in a very unusual moment and I thought it was a good time for us to celebrate togetherness and unity, and colors are happy. I thought a little happy moment is not a bad thing.”
She opened the show with a bright oversize pullover shirt with a thoughtful gathering of fabric in the back that allowed it to hang loose from the body; the same design detail appeared elsewhere on a great yellow dress. There was a playful color-blocked top-and-bottom set and a dress with frayed accents, and other injections of color via a jungle print cut into a dress with a gathered knot at the waist. “Being from the tropics I grew up with a profusion of color,” the Malaysia native continued. “I went into a very stark phase and I’ve freed myself!”
Upon closer examination, you notice a balance of contrasts, of rough and smooth, textured and plain, with many items straddling a gender-ambiguous thread. The same jungle print was cut into a jumpsuit worn by a male model, as was a striped jacket with loose-fitting pants — a style that was cut into multiple colors for guys and girls. A dramatically oversize hooded jacket, semi-sheer raincoat and loose flight suits were inspired by a project she’s working on for the Phoenix Art Museum. Yeohlee wouldn’t go as far to say that she’s launching men’s wear, but it would be a natural extension to her unfettered modernist approach to design.
September 10, 2018
by Liana Satenstein
The color palette was a bit shocking today at Yeohlee. Unlike past seasons, the collection this time was dominated by bright hues. (There was not one piece of the usual black fabric. The only pieces remotely dark were two denim items.) The timing for designer Yeohlee Teng to take a sunnier route could not have been better: The last week has been overcast and rainy. The collection opened with a citrus-color oversize shirtdress and a pair of wide-leg gingham cotton trousers in tones of blue, moss green, and orange. Call it a ray of light. That gingham piece was later translated into a vacation-minded jumper worn under a white linen jacket with a scooped neck and a detachable hood that hung like a mantilla veil.
Welcomed bursts of color aside, the most surprising aspect of the collection was the slivers of sexiness that made peekaboo appearances. One of the best pieces was a slinky denim tank top. It came slightly cropped, with two thin straps that made an X on the back. For some of that late-’90s goodness that is all very now, it was paired with a low-slung pin-striped skirt that was pulled down to the hips to reveal the midriff. Another version of that barely-there tank came in pinstripes with a very Teng zero-waste touch, boasting an exposed selvage as the top trim.
Teng said the collection’s new mood was inspired by a number of things, from the colors of metals and shells to a fighter-pilot friend—see the dreamy tropical-print jumpsuit—but really, it all came down to this: “I wanted to know what clothes do for people and how they make people feel.” A happy little string tank top infused with her sustainable philosophy is something that will make its wearer feel and look very good.
February 12, 2018
by Liana Satenstein
Yeohlee Teng has been working with zero and minimal waste since the beginning of her career. For Fall 2018, she used a total of just nine fabrics (an important point, she noted.) The straightforwardness worked well with Teng’s polished tailoring, which typically cuts a boyish figure. It was inspired by a mélange of influences, including samurais, ninjas, concubines, and amahs—women (or girls) responsible for taking care of families and their homes. On the more traditional front, a standout included a denim suit with a mandarin collar. Another mandarin collar piece was meticulously crafted, made out of a white jacquard jacket that appeared pin-poked (aptly named Starbrite dots) and styled with a pair of trousers. (Starbrite dots also appeared on a cool loose white dress with oversize pockets outlined with black piping that boasted an elevated workwear feel.)
There was a print in the mix, titled Nitesky. It was reminiscent of the eerie shadows of forests when used on a pair of kicky pants, which, when worn with a rough-edge hooded vest, looked like slick postapocalyptic-wear. While many of the pieces followed the label’s expected mannish silhouettes, the feminine looks were the most exquisite by far, such as the satin numbers. In one long and linear getup, the satin zigzag pants, a lustrous satin matching jacket, and a slinky black ribbon tank all seemed to float into one another. Minimal waste never looked so pretty.