Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, Jeehye Lee’s worldview is global—a perspective that further blossomed when she moved to Canada by age 15 and eventually New York to study fashion design at Parsons. Her graduate collection, “NUF,” celebrates blithe colors and playful quilting, all inspired by her grandmother’s love of the craft.
Recalling her roots, Lee also looked to Korean historical hero Yi Sun-sin for aesthetic influence, the warrior’s traditional armor providing clues for silhouette and structure. Yi Sun-sin used whirlpools as a tactic to win battles—a reference that manifested into bright, swirling patterns on fabric in Lee’s collection; he used spears regularly—a graphic shape that Lee reworked as applied arrowheads on garments; even the complex architecture of his warship, “Turtle Boat,” guided Lee’s nostalgic quilting. The result is a lineup of looks that balance whimsy with confidence, fantasy with force. See photos from Lee’s sketchbook, below.