Please give us a short introduction
Hello. I’m model Irene who loves fashion.
Your name “Irene” sounds Korean and can be written in hangul [t/n: Aileen and Irene are the same for a Korean speaker], but it also sounds like an English name.
It’s the English name. My name is Kim Irene, so I’m using “Irene” for my modeling activities.
Because of your name and your exotic features, there must be a lot of people who wonder if you’re mixed.
I look exotic? (laugh) I lived in the US, but I’m not mixed.
I wonder about how you became a model.
While I was enrolled at the fashion institute of technology in New York, I worked at a place called “Style Like U”. I was interviewed about style, I did some photo shoots, I did a couple of modeling activities.
You started working as a model while working part-time and going to school?
I got recruited by a modeling agency back then, but my family wanted me to stay focused on my studies, so I really started working after I graduated and returned to Korea. My family told me that I could do whatever I wanted after graduation.
When did you come back to Korea?
I came back in April 2012. It’s almost been a year.
Now that I’m speaking to you, I can see that your Korean is good. You lived in the US for a long time, so when did you study Korean?
I lived in the US until high school. At that time, my grandmother and my grandfather lived in Korea, so I often came to see them. After that, I went to a school for foreigners in Korea and I studied Korean. Then I went back to the US for college. My Korean really improved since I came back here.
Your first show was the 2011 F/W STEVE J & YONI P collection. How did you become a part of it?
I think it was luck because I got here after the auditions were over. Fortunately, there was a meeting. Steve and Yoni liked me, so I was able to take part in their show. It was really a good start. I thank all the directors.
How does a meeting usually go?
First of all, you walk. If you’re chosen as a model who can match the collection concept, you try some outfits. And finally, they also take pictures.
You said there was a walking test. Did you learn how to walk like a model?
I never took a lesson. I didn’t think too much about what walking was, so I think I was able to show a natural way of walking. After that, my agency made me take pose and walking lessons.
You didn’t start your modeling career early, so when did you start dreaming of being a model?
I’m older than other models, but going to school and working gave me a lot of experience. I think it was a time to build myself. I think that’s what allows me to be better in my job. I’ve always been interested in fashion and art. More than dreaming about being a model, I feel like the thought “I’m a model” naturally came to me because I did some modeling before I started doing it earnestly. (laugh)
Recently, you did a semi nude photo shoot for Singles. What do models think of nude photo shoot?
I don’t think a nude photo shoot done in an artistic way is a bad thing. And I’m not young, I think I had less pressure. The semi nude photo shoot I did with Singles came out beautiful. They took nice pictures of me, so I’m thankful for that. (laugh)
I think you’re aware of the styling and make-up that suit you. Which brands do you like?
I like fashion, so talking about one specific brand is hard. Of course, I like brand-name products, but I think “style” is more important than the brand. It’s about how you mix-match things, how you turn things into your own.
You’re good at mix-matching things. You must own many accessoiries. Where do you usually go for shopping?
I usually go to Apgujeong or Hongdae, on Garosu-gil. I live next to Garosu-gil, so it’s not far away but I don’t go there a lot these days. The last time, my friends and I were chosen five times for street pictures on Garosu-gil. The setting was similar, so I think people probably thought “this girl doesn’t change clothes”. (laugh) I like buying designer brands products at the mall, but I like the vintage style, so I find clothes in my mom’s closet sometimes.
I don’t find such stuff in my mom’s closet. Your mom must really like clothes.
She does. My grandmother also lost many clothes like that. My grandmother has a lot of style.
What do you usually do when you go to Apgujeong and Hongdae?
It’s the same. It’s not a fancy life. If there’s a fashion party, I go sometimes. There was an H&M even recently. I ended up going because I was shopping in Hongdae and my friend told me about the open party.
We can see how unique you are in your street pictures. Do they contact you before? Or is it by coincidence?
For ads or specific projects, I’m contacted before we do it, but these street pictures are usually taken by coincidence. My friends and I drink coffee and take them or we meet a photographer in the street and our pictures get taken. I’m so thankful because they make my style stand out.
The styling really matches your image. Is there a style you’re looking for?
I like the chic style. Now that I’m in Korea, I’m going for a style lovelier. When I’m stuck on a style, I only wear this style. It’s the same for my outfit today. I’m into denim these days.
Give some styling tips to our Cuvism readers.
Don’t try to always follow the trends. Turn your outfit into your own style.
Is there a model you’re close with?
I was close with Kang Seung Hyun when we were in New York. We met during a casting and we took a cab together because we lived in the same neighborhood. I’m seeing Hannah-unnie a lot these days when I work. It’s great that I got to meet so many nice people.
Which recent photo shoot did you enjoy?
I did a “Noblesse” photo shoot with Issey Miyake. The result was very interesting. And the shooting itself was fun.
There’s probably a photo shoot you remember the most.
My first photo shoot with “Vogue Girl”. I hadn’t been in Korea for too long and I got to work with photographer Bori. There was this futurism concept. I guess it’s because it was my first time doing this, so I was very nervous. I was quite happy once she complimented me after it was over.
You probably follow a diet, but I wonder if your constitution plays a part in the way you maintain your body.
I’ve always been thin. When I was young, I even hated how tall and thin I was, so I didn’t wear shorts or heels. Then I came to New York. Seeing so many tall people and this carefree image gave me confidence.
How do you maintain your body?
I like eating what’s good for the body. Before I started working as a model, I ate when I wanted to eat. Now, I eat but care about my health too.
What inspires you in your model career?
I get to travel around, so I get to feel many things. And I read a lot of books.
If there’s a book that you think is inspiring, please share it with our Cuvism readers.
It’s a Haruki Murakimi book. “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” [?] of 800 pages. I thought it was so interesting that I read it in 3 days. And there’s also the photobook of famous photographer Richard Avedon. I think his pictures are very stylish, so I want to recommdend it.
You said you traveled a lot. Of all the places you’ve already visited, which one left you the biggest impression?
I’ve been to Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico, and Europe. Istanbul and Turkey are the places that left me the biggest impression. Seeing the islam culture and these exotic places really made me feel that I was in another world. I spent four days over there and I want to go back.
Can you share a funny story that happened to you in Istanbul?
I went to Istanbul with four of my friends. I was the only one who handled the jet lag, so my friends said they would take an afternoon nap and I went around on my own. There was an alley with many artists just like Soho in New York. There were many vintage shops. I thought “there are places like this in Istanbul!” and I spent about 3~4 hours shopping. I didn’t contact my friends who got scared and turned the hotel upside down. And then I appeared with my hands full of shopping bags. (laugh)
Is there a model who is currently active that you’d like to work with?
I want to work with veteran models such as Hye Park and Jang Yoon Joo who have a lot of experience.
A first time always feels new. How did you feel during your first photo shoot?
They usually don’t reveal most of the photo shoot concepts, so I find out about them when I’m on set. I couldn’t sleep the night before my first photo shoot.
How did you feel when you saw the results?
I was satisifed and I told myself “the photo shoot is complete”. I try my best to do things I won’t regret. If you translate “go with the flow” in Korean, it’s ‘흐름에 맡기다’. I live by these words because regrets are a waste of time.
You were in the music video of “me to you” which was in Joo Young’s latest EP album. What did you think of this music video shooting?
I think shooting a music video wasn’t stressful. I’m not a kid. I have lived many experiences, so I think it was easy to understand the emotions. I think I do well when I’m not nervous. It was fun.
Do you have any desire to become an actress?
I’m more ambitious about creating something or do fashion than acting.
Many fashionistas take part in the Cuvism x Diafvine 2013 Riders JKT “Johnny”. Tell us how you feel about doing this project.
It was an honor. (laugh) I was able to meet nice people. It was a fun shooting. I felt at ease because I prepared with Jin Kyung. I was happy to see Hong Min Chul whom I had already worked with.
Do you have a role model?
I don’t have one specific role model, but I like model Freja Beha. She has this androgynous vibe, but she’s really chic too. As for Korean models, I like Jang Yoon Joo.
You walked the runway for a lot of shows, the Seoul collection included. Which show do you remember the most?
The ones I did at the beginning for “Jardin de chouette” and “Steve J & Yoni P”. “Jardin de chouette” designer Kim Jae Hyun is a cool and charismatic person. He tells the models to enjoy the show because you don’t have that much energy to enjoy the moment when you’re on a busy set. The clothes were pretty and the cheerful atmosphere was great.
You did many things as a model: photo shoots, collections shows, ads. Which one was the most exciting and the most interesting?
Each activity has its charm. I can relax during a magazine photo shoo because you can take breaks. When it comes to shows, I enjoy the enthusiastic and busy backstage atmosphere.
What is your dream as a model?
I want to be known as a model with a good style. I want to become a model who can portray various concepts and make great photo shoots.
Who takes the pictures you upload on the blog you manage?
I take the pictures myself. Having other people to take pictures is good, but I like the ones I take myself.
The lifestyle of stylish Irene
What do you do on your free time?
I like being with other people, but I enjoy being on my own too. I live with an unnie who is a Billboard reporter. I watch movies at home with my unnie roommate sometimes.
What are you usually interested in?
Clothes naturally became what I’m interested in. I’m gathering clothes. So my roomate and I say that “we don’t live in a house, we live in clothes”.
You have a tattoo on your wrist. What’s the meaning behind it?
If you look closely, these are wings. I got it the year I turned 20. It means “fly high” as in “let’s fly higher. If I work hard, my dream will come true”.
Do you have other tattoos?
I have two other tattoos. The tattoo artist wrote the words “with the flow” on my ribs and in hangul too. The other tattoo is “deux”. It’s a French word and the tattoo means two is better than one.
How would people describe you?
They would say I’m a bright person. They know I like joking around.
How would you want people to see you?
Personally, I like the chic feeling. I think people see me in a cute way as someone who jokes around, who is cheerful. Still, people like me because of who I am, so how they see me doesn’t matter.
You seem to have a lot of aegyo. What is your ideal type?
I have a strange personality, so it would be someone who can understand me. I think personality and thoughts are more important than looks. I like a smart guy who can keep me slightly on my toes. And someone who can be understanding about the work I do is even better. I hate bad boys. (laugh)
What are your plans for the future?
I was in this “let’s go with the flow” mindset, so I didn’t make specific plans. As a model, I want to work more in Korea than overseas. Later on, I want to work in the business fashion and not just be a model. I hope being a model will open many doors.
Please say something to our readers.
If there’s something you want to do, work hard for it. You can see yourself doing what you’re dreaming of. Thank you for reading this interview.
Original article: Cuvism
Translation: @onesunnylady – thesunnytown.com