New York Designer Dawn Han Talks Eggcream
With fashion becoming more and more global these days, it only makes sense that designers, too, are traversing the globe to find their creative bases. Designer Dawn Han hails from bustling Hong Kong, but it was after a move to NYC that she found a place to call home. A stint at fashion brands Heatherette and the recently relaunched Libertine laid the foundation for her new line, with the intriguing moniker Eggcream. The contemporary label debuts this spring, and already has been creating buzz at the NYC store DDC Lab where it’s currently stocked. Here Han speaks on beginnings, cool girls and what the future may hold.
FashionSalade: Let’s trace back, how did you decide to move from Hong Kong to NYC?
Dawn Han: I was 17 at the time, just finished year 11 in Hong Kong. I had to be a fashion designer, so I convinced my mom to let me go to the US for fashion school. Honestly, my family hadn’t given a 100% mental support for my decision at the time, but I couldn’t care (now they’re proud of me!). Right after 2001 New Year’s Eve, I landed in San Francisco, stayed there for a year to study at a fashion school and contemplated my next move to the Big Apple. A year and a plane ride with multiple connections later, I found myself at LGA looking for a cheap place to stay in the cold. I arrived at a tiny hotel room that smelled like a drunk homeless person. Then I thought to myself, “Okay, guess what life begins here.”
FS: What are some of the best parts about being based out of NYC?
DH: The best part of NYC has to be the diversity of the city’s population. I came from a place where the culture is pretty homogenous so to see that many different people and cultures in New York were very eye opening. Everyone brings something to the plate in NYC. It’s a place where you can live the life the way you want, not having to be afraid that you’re different because there are always people feeling the same way as you do.
FS: Any regular spots you love in the city?
DH: I always love to stop by Film Forum to see what is on. They screen old movies, foreign movies and art movies. Being a foreigner/new immigrant, I want to be in tune with the American culture, not just the current pop culture. Cinema is definitely a form of art, and it is a great channel to understand the world and humanity, past, present and future. Even an awful movie can teach you something about a culture.
FS: And do you ever miss Hong Kong?
DH: Every time I put on a Wong Kar Wai or Fruit Chan movie, I have this urge to travel back in time to the place where I grew up. Hong Kong is very different from what it used to be. I grew up in a very crowded area called Mongkok. It’s an interesting area. About 10-15 minutes walk from my apartment; you’ll find street markets, hawkers, packed sidewalks, small boutiques, secret mahjong gambling places, and teenagers “misbehaving.” All of that I miss, but it all seems like a past life memory now. Every time I go back, I don’t feel much at home. Maybe I’ve changed or Hong Kong has moved on. My idea of Hong Kong is like a 2046 train that is lost in time and space, like an ex-lover, but the memories we share together will always be there.
FS: Before you launched your own line, you worked for Heatherette and Libertine. What was that like?
DH: Heatherette was definitely a fabulous place, where you can have the most fun doing what you love. The studio was painted in silver! It’s very likely that you’d run into celebrities in their studio. Libertine is almost like an art house, just being in their studio can inspire you, and there was a lot of screen-printing going on.
FS: What’s the story behind the label’s name “Eggcream”? Seems very Easter-appropriate.
DH: Haha, yes gonna be celebrating Easter with some yummy eggcream – add a little brandi/cognac in it and it’ll be out of this world. The name Eggcream was taken from the song “Eggcream” by Lou Reed. It kinda goes like “you scream, I steam, we all want eggcream…” Eggcream is a drink from New York. No egg, no cream, but a fizzy and milky chocolate drink.
FS: How would you describe the line’s look for Spring?
DH: I was in a moment of loving lines and cutouts, a little inspired by minimalism. There’s a mixture of transparency and opacity. A little sexy with subtlety, but not vulgar. For the girls who are not trying too hard because they know already they’re cool.
FS: Where do you hope to take the label?
DH: With the big economic downturn in the US and Europe, it’s a hard time for many designers right now. At this point, I just want to focus on doing what I love, sustain the business and let things happen organically.
All images courtesy of Eggcream
By: Bee-Shyuan Chang