Text by Sara Iravani

T. Young Hwang followed a myriad of paths before he found the right one. Being a successful graduate from Parson’s, The New School, one would expect him to claim the standard line, “I always knew I wanted to be a fashion designer.” This is far from the reality Hwang had, which has helped shape his creativity.
Initially, T. Young Hwang began studying Hotel Management in Korea but ended his studies after losing interest. Hwang realized his passion was in clothing design and subsequently wanted to move to the States.

Before Hwang could follow his ambition, he served in the Korean military for two years. Not the average route an up-and-coming designer takes, but after looking at his work, one can see the positive influence his experience in the military has in his designs.

Presenting his first collection at the annual Parson’s Fashion Benefit, Hwang ended the show on the highest note: winning the acclaimed title of Menswear Designer of the Year in 2011 for his use of raw fabric, earth tones and layering. His collection invokes a sense of rugged individualism as each look he created is strong and easily stands out on its own.
This quality stems from Hwang’s Napoleon vision. “He designed his life and made people believe something that wasn’t entirely true.” This concept is cautiously designed around each look playing with his notion of wearability. On a superficial level, many of his garments seem plain, but it is his use of illusion that makes Hwang an inventive designer. “In order to represent the Napoleon Illusion, my collection focuses on Trompe L’oeil because there is a similarity between the Napoleon Illusion and Trompe L’oeil.”

Hwang’s use of juxtaposing “our perceptions of truth and image” manages to produce truly original and covetable clothes. While at Parson’s, he interned with Michael Kors and Polo Ralph Lauren. He maintains his ambition and plans to gain more experience in the design world before forming his own company.
“I try to find the balance between an illusionistic concept and the practical aspect of being wearable.”