- Words Monique Boreland
- Photography Eva Zar
We head to New York to hang out with the girl whose designs have been favoured by Rihanna, Lizzo and Nicki Minaj.
Inspired by the likes of Selena and Madonna, fashion designer, Yeha Leung AKA Creepy Yeha puts needle to latex to design statement pieces that celebrate the female body. Yeha’s designs span from bejeweled two pieces to lingerie adorned with buckles and clasps. Drawing inspiration from fetish photographer and former Bizarre Magazine – a fetish magazine encapsulating kinky fashion and fantasies – editor, John Willie, the designer confessed she was intrigued by Willie’s “bondage and pin-up esque designs”.
Yeha’s attention to detail, and handcrafted designs have seen her style a portfolio of outstanding artists like FKA Twigs, Rihanna, Solange, Nicki Minaj and more. Like Yeha, these artists believe fashion is self-expressive – each harness, belt and bra design encourages women to wear whatever they want, wherever they want. Rihanna who was pictured sporting Yeha’s signature choker in music video “Work” emanates Yeha’s beliefs. After, wearing a sheer dress adorned in Swarovski crystals to the CFDA award ceremony in 2014, Rihanna bit back at an interviewer who asked if she would be changing her outfit – “Do my tits bother you? They’re covered in Swarovski crystals!”. Rihanna’s ice-cool shrug at societal expectations creates room for women to feel empowered, not hypersexualized. Similarly, Yeha’s bold collection encourages women to explore and purchase garments they’d like to strut both in or outside of confined spaces. Either way, Yeha insists her designs are for women of all shapes and sizes and plans to make her collection accessible to all.
We sat down with Yeha to find out more; from her biggest influences to S&M and bondage, the fashion designer talks us through her life and creative process.
First of all, tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born in Brooklyn, NY. Then I moved to Staten Island, then Queens, later Chinatown and now back in Brooklyn. I’ve gone full circle! My childhood was very inspiring. My family came from China and started everything from scratch. Amongst the struggles, they were able to pave their own path and now they are both fully self employed. I witnessed first hand partners coming together to create something greater for the benefit of the whole family. To this day my parents are my biggest inspiration.
When did you first become interested in fashion?
I became interested in fashion at a very young age. I was obsessed with pop stars and super models. Before I even knew anything about designers, I was always fascinated by artists like Selena, Michael Jackson and Madonna. The way they present themselves on stage served as introductions to the fashion world for me.
Tell us about your design aesthetic. Where does the inspiration come from?
My design aesthetic is based around juxtaposing materials. I enjoy working with things that are not intended to be mixed together. I am inspired in the complexity of confident women. I tend to design with a muse in mind.
There’s a bondage / S&M undertone to your work, why is this?
One of my biggest inspirations is John Willie. He is best known for his bondage / pin-up esque illustrations. I have always been fascinated by different subcultures.
Do you think that clothing is one way for women to feel sexually empowered?
Yes. But it depends on the person.
Who is your customer? How would you describe them?
I want to cater my work to people that enjoy custom made products. I would describe my customer as someone that is patient and understands the process and value behind creating handmade goods.
Tell us about some of the musicians that have worn your designs?
FKA Twigs, Rihanna, Kali Uchis, Solange, Buscabulla, Jehnny Beth, Sateen, Cardi B, City Girls, Nicki Minaj, The Veronicas, Lizzo, Justine Skye, Debbie Harry, Audri Nix and many more!
Who has been your favourite to work with?
I would have to say FKA Twigs. I absolutely adore her and her work so it’s still pretty surreal to me that I got to create something for her. She wore my designs for her first world tour and for the videos “In Time” “Figure 8” and “Fukk Sleep”
How do people generally respond to your designs?
At some places it might be considered a bit risqué, in others celebrated. It really depends on the context, but in New York people usually are pretty accepting.
What are you planning on doing with the business? Where do you want to take the brand?
As of now I am developing some ready to ship items, for customers that might not be able to afford the price or time it takes to own a full custom made piece. We also plan on expanding to other markets like Asia.