Photography by Daniel Paik

La Toile –Beggining–(First half)
Designer, Hanna Yoo

English text: Robert Bloom
SAYAKA DAVIS started in 2013 with a small collection of knitwear and jewelry.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of SAYAKA DAVIS, a collaborative exhibition with designer Hanna Yoo will be held on January 28 and 29 in Tokyo and in New York on 11 and 12 Feburary.

This Interview will be divided into two parts: the first part, which will unravel the initial encounter and relationship between the two New York-based creators, the process leading up to the exhibition and their respective thoughts on the exhibition through dialogue between the two; and the second part, which will take a closer look at Hanna Yoo's unique creations.

Korean designer Hanna Yoo, who started her own project 'hannayoo works' in 2021 after working in the fashion world in Seoul, Paris, and New York. She & Sayaka Tokimoto-Davis met seven years ago.
Sayaka Tokimoto-Davis (Sayaka): At the time we met, Hanna was working as design director at Tibi and I was introducing Japanese yarns to American Apparel in parallel with Sayaka Davis. That’s how I got to know Hanna.

Hanna Yoo: At first, I didn't know that Sayaka had her own brand, but when I visited her studio, she showed me the jewelry she was working on at the time. I was really impressed by how beautiful it was. A little time has passed since then, but about a year ago, when I presented my first piece of jewelry as part of the Tibi collection, I wanted to get Sayaka's opinion, so I asked her to look at my work.

Sayaka: When I saw Hanna's jewelry for the first time, I was very touched by the free, playful and original view of her world. I wanted a lot of people to know about her work. And I asked her, “why don’t you start your own brand?”. It was just at the time when Hanna was also thinking of going independent.
In the 2023 SS season, SAYAKA DAVIS celebrated its 10th anniversary since the brand was established. For the anniversary shoot, she asked Hanna to style lookbook & campaign looks. Hanna's styling, which depicted the story of the past 10 years, brought Sayaka back to the starting point of her creations.
Sayaka: The 10th anniversary is a significant moment for me and I was feeling a lot of pressure. Through styling the lookbook and campaign, Hanna connected what I had done by dots to dots and made it into a story. I felt that Hanna discovered things in me that I couldn't find on my own, so working with her was very meaningful. It was then that Hanna said to me, 'Happy 10th anniversary Sayaka. It's another beginning as a designer'. At that time, Hanna was also launching her own brand and we both talked about how it was a new beginning, a continuation of our stories.
Photography by Daniel Paik
“Toile” is the French word for white cloth, ‘muslin” in particular. Designers’ idea work begins with cutting and draping muslin. For these two designers, it is also a word that represents a 'beginning'. As creators with a new beginning, they want to have a place to express themselves together. The collaborative exhibition 'La Toile' was initiated with this in mind.
Hanna: When I heard Sayaka’s ideas about ‘White Space’ and refreshing her brand after its 10th anniversary, I thought of the name ‘La Toile’ as a symbol of the beginning and the essence of designers’ work. How we drape or create an idea with ‘white cloth’ leads us to where we want to create and share. This inspired us to share our excitement about this show.

Words are significant to me and my work is inspired by verbal communication in many ways. The word ‘toile’, white cloth, is the tool used at the beginning when designers design. And the toile can invoke memories of that slightly burnt but tasty smell when it is ironed. The shape of the toile is changed by ironing, cutting, and pinning, where the designer finds beauty. I would love to share the process of receiving inspiration from the material and how it becomes further inspiration for others.

Sayaka: Hanna's words always give me inspiration and food for thought. During the creation process, Hanna asked me, "What makes Sayaka, Sayaka?" She said that what you have felt, thought, and experienced in your life, from the past to the present, must have made you who you are today.

At that time, I realized that I had not looked back much, only forward. On the10th anniversary, I wanted to reflect and sort out what path I have taken so far and what is at the core of who I am, and find where I am going from here.

What came to mind was the memory of dressing up my favorite doll with a lace handkerchief. It was interesting to see the cloth take shape along the doll's body, and I was curious to see her transformation with just one piece of cloth. I think my desire to become a designer also originated from that feeling. I wanted to return to the joy of making clothes and the pure pleasure of wearing clothes I like.
Photography by Daniel Paik
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