New York Bridal Label Morilee Names Jiyup Kim as Chief Design Officer

0

Storied New York bridal house Morilee is entering a new era with the appointment of Jiyup Kim as chief design officer. 

Kim succeeds longtime chief design and creative officer Madeline Gardner, who resigned from her role at the end of March after a 39-year tenure. In a statement on Instagram, Gardner explained that she was “stepping back from the day-to-day business” and is “excited to take on new challenges and opportunities.” She remains on the Morilee board of directors.

During her time at Morilee, Gardner told WWD ahead of the brand’s 70th anniversary show in November that she feels she helped the company grow from a “small New York brand” to one with a decades-spanning reach across the categories of bridal, couture, quinceañera and special occasion.

In her new role Kim, who served as senior design director at Vera Wang for more than 10 years and directed the creative vision of its luxury bridal, ready-to-wear, red carpet and special occasion collections, will “chart the course of design innovation” across these categories, the brand said, and report to president and chief executive officer Terri Eagle.

“The enthusiasm and vision of Morilee’s CEO, Terri Eagle, were profoundly inspiring. Her unwavering commitment to continuously reimagine the modern bride resonated deeply with me. I feel truly honored to lead design and believe that my experience will significantly contribute to the brand’s captivating future in a meaningful way,” Kim told WWD of the inspiration to join Morilee. 

“My tenure at Vera Wang has provided me with invaluable insights into the nuances of customization and a profound understanding of design across various realms — red carpet, ready-to-wear, bridal and special occasions. I plan to bring this expertise to blend the sophistication and grandeur of the red carpet to the delicate intricacies of bridal and the approachable allure of ready-to-wear. Infusing our bridal and special occasion collections with elevated luxury and individual style will ensure each piece feels unique and unforgettable, each telling its own story,” she said.

Kim’s first bridal collection for Morilee will debut in March 2025 at the National Bridal Market Chicago and at April 2025’s Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week.

Terri Eagle

Terri Eagle

Courtes of Morilee

When searching for a new designer — “big shoes to fill,” Eagle said — she was keen on finding someone who understood the house of design — not just the making of wedding dresses, but options for the entire bridal party.

“Jiyup Kim just lit up the room,” Eagle said. “When I sat down with her, the smile, the joy, the love she has for design, it’s captivating. We spent two hours together on the first visit, and we just couldn’t stop talking.

“Not only was she involved in design, she was involved in the creative — so she can bring those two pieces together to truly modernize us,” Eagle added.

Both Eagle and Kim see opportunities in expanding the brand’s growing special occasion category and view the Morilee bride as not a singular type of customer, but as every bride, with something for everyone. 

Eagle noted that Morilee’s wedding range currently includes three distinct labels at varying price-points to cater to this demand: the core Morilee wedding gowns (about $1,500 to $6,000 at retail); Couture ($20,000 for a hand-painted dress by the brand’s global artisans), and Amy and Eve (the “sexy, fun, meets-the-budget” line, Eagle said). The brand sells at more than 3,000 specialty shops worldwide.

Kim said expanding the customer base “will require a nuanced approach that blends tradition with innovation.” She hopes that storytelling “will be at the heart of this vision,” moving forward, with fashions designed to “reflect the dreams of brides worldwide, interlacing rich cultural influences and modern ideas into a captivating tapestry.” 

“I look forward to completely immersing myself into the essence of Morilee, honoring its storied heritage while injecting a fresh, elevated luxury perspective. Understanding the evolving desires of the modern woman, whom I’ve had the privilege of designing for over the past 15-plus years, is paramount. My goal is to establish a core language of pieces that not only meet their needs but also introduce a poetic new way of dressing, offering essential elements that transform their special moments into extraordinary experiences on multiple levels,” Kim said.

“This vision, still unfolding, seeks to capture the heart of the many aspirational Morilee international brand ambassadors who, though present, will be distinctly redefined. She is a woman who dreams of new possibilities, blending romance and modernity from all global perspectives.”

In addition to Kim’s appointment, Eagle attributes the new direction and planned growth to other new hires and recent promotions including Nathan Serphos, chief operating officer; Mateo Maggini, executive vice president, and Surim Campos, senior vice president of marketing.  

Furthermore, the brand this month launched a summer-long “Design Lab” mentorship program with its design group for Fashion Institute of Technology students, following the designation of the first Madeline Gardner Scholarship award last year. 

link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *