Gemma Hoi Opens Up About Her Road to New York Fashion Week – Exclusive Interview

Designer Gemma Hoi achieved a major career milestone this month: the Chinese designer officially made her NYC-based label’s debut at New York Fashion Week. She presented a beautiful collection titled “Time Traveller 1940s,” which featured the vintage-inspired denim styles she’s loving now – with a modern twist. We were so captivated by her presentation, we had to find out the story behind her brand, and the visions she has for her line.

Richard Magazine recently caught up with the 30-year-old designer to hear about her professional journey and personal inspirations – and we even got her to spill her must-have trend predictions for the seasons ahead. Check out our exclusive Q& A below.

Richard Magazine: Can you talk about how growing up in China influenced your designs, and if you have noticed any other cultural differences?

Gemma Hoi: I was born and raised in Macau, China, and it is a peaceful island that contains both Western and Eastern influences due to its complicated history. Such a culturally ambiguous region made me more absorbent and open to different designs, even if they have concepts that contradict each other. Personally, I think that Eastern designs pay more attention to the embellishment and construction of a “perfect woman” within a society. On the other hand, Western designs focus more on bringing the most out of every “individual woman,” granting personality and identity.

Gemma hoiDesigner Gemma Hoi at her debut NYFW show, February 2018

Richard Magazine: When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer?

Gemma Hoi: My father is a menswear designer, so since I was a kid I’ve been living under his influence.

Richard Magazine: Do you have a designer you look up to?

Gemma Hoi: Maria Grazia Chiuri, she is just absolutely extraordinary.

Richard Magazine: How would you describe the Gemma Hoi customer?

Gemma Hoi: The women of Gemma Hoi are all rough diamonds that live ordinarily within this world, yet every single one of them has her own unique shine. My designs seek to be the polishing tool for these rough diamonds, as I want my garments to bring out their individual confidence and beauty.

Richard Magazine: Do you have a favorite season to design for?

Gemma Hoi: I love designing all seasons, as different seasons grant different guidelines for design. However personally, I think fall is the most exciting because there are so many experiments on layers that one can explore.

Richard Magazine: Who would you love to dress in your designs?

Gemma Hoi: I would kill to dress Rihanna or Kendall Jenner! I love how much personality they have, and how confident they are in showing their sexiness.

Richard Magazine: Who is your style icon?

Gemma Hoi: Rihanna is definitely my most recent style icon. I love how she executes mix-and-match. She is the one that really inspired me to push couture elements into daily wear.

Gemma Hoi Studio Fall 2018 presentation at New York Fashion Week

Richard Magazine: What are your favorite hobbies outside of design?

Gemma Hoi: I enjoy discovering different types of textiles and materials, since I’m always looking for new ideas to express myself through fashion. I sound like a fashion nerd! Other than spending more time in fashion, I also enjoy travelling, as I love how big and beautiful this world is.

Richard Magazine: Is there a specific type of fabric or embroidery that you often use in your designs?

Gemma Hoi: My go-to materials are lace, leather, and organza, however I tend to use them in a more masculine way than their traditional feminine context.

Richard Magazine: What’s your favorite fashion trend right now?

Gemma Hoi: My favorite fashion trend right now is the focus on Americana and haute denim, which are both elements that I seek to explore this season as well.

Gemma Hoi NYFWGemma Hoi Studio Fall 2018 presentation at New York Fashion Week

Richard Magazine: What’s a trend you wish would go away?

Gemma Hoi: Please stop the fanny pack trend.

Richard Magazine: Tell us about your personal sense of style and how you like to dress.

Gemma Hoi: I like to be low-key unique, and my pieces should always be easy to wear, functional, and with special details that add personality.

Gemma Hoi Studio Fall 2018 presentation at New York Fashion Week

Richard Magazine: What are three staple pieces you think everyone should own in their wardrobe?

Gemma Hoi: I want to answer this in two parts: first from the universe of fashion, and second from my “Time Traveller 1940s”.

From the Universe of Fashion:

  1. Statement earrings. You want to have a pair of gigantic and beautiful earrings that can accentuate your simplest looks. It also grants so much power and confidence to the wearer.
  2. The perfect white shirt. The white shirt is perhaps the most versatile out of all pieces; you can pair it with pretty much anything, and transport it between formal and informal.
  3. Platform shoes. Personally because I am rather tiny, so this is a must for me. However I also love it because its chunkiness can be used to make you adorable, quirky, or rebellious.

From the “Time Traveller 1940s”:

  1. The “Mermaid Skirt” with the feather top, because it fits the female body perfectly and it is surprisingly comfortable. Really simple yet edgy.
  2. The off-shoulder denim long jacket will be a great item to have. It can be a jacket, which can cover and support anything you have under it, or wear it individually like a dress.
  3. The bleached-strips shirt is very unique too, as we spent a long time experimenting for the effect. I’m pretty sure it is a rather original texture on the market right now.

Richard Magazine: What advice would you go back and give yourself when you were just starting out?

Gemma Hoi: Stop fooling around and fly to New York as soon as possible.

Richard Magazine: What would your younger self think about what you’re up to now?

Gemma Hoi: Finally we arrived! What an exciting journey! From a nobody to a NYFW designer, you go girl!

More from the designer.
More from Fall 2018 New York Fashion Week.
Lead image via Nolcha Shows for NYFW, all others exclusively shot by Richard Magazine


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