Yeohlee Teng was born in Malaysia and has worked primarily in New York City, where she established her house, YEOHLEE Inc, in 1981.
Yeohlee designs for the urban environment, dressing the “Urban Nomad,” a term she coined in 1997. Her collection is – and has always been – designed, developed and produced in New York City. She has shown in quintessential New York spaces, most notably, the 42nd St-Bryant Park Station of the NYC Subway for her Spring 2005 collection.
For the last 3 years, Yeohlee has been at the forefront of addressing the Garment District rezoning plan. She has been pivotal in calling attention to the potential consequences to the fashion industry should the City lift the zoning for manufacturing in Midtown Manhattan. Yeohlee has been a catalyst in mobilizing people and resources to focus on this issue. This year, she spearheaded the Made in Midtown project for the CFDA in partnership with the Design Trust for Public Space. Made in Midtown is an initiative to envision a future for the Garment District that allows the light manufacturing fashion industry to flourish while also accommodating development and growth. The fashion industry provides diversity in jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities that allow New York City to call itself the fashion capital of the world. In addition to the economic aspect, the Made in Midtown study is critically important to how New York thinks of itself as a city. At the heart of it, for Yeohlee, “is the city’s cultural identity.”
Yeohlee’s commitment to working with local craftspeople is a testament to a new, nuanced concept of sustainability which includes maintaining a viable community. Proximity to production facilities allows for innovation based on a continuous connection between Yeohlee and the work during every stage– from concept to finished product. Manufacturing in Midtown has the advantage of a quick “just in time” response that is critical in today’s economy. This accessibility promotes efficiency, conserves time, energy and resources, and ties in with Yeohlee’s “Zero Waste” philosophy.
Yeohlee believes that design comes from serving a function and is refined through time and process. Her designs are driven by material, maximizing the use of each fabric by thoughtful consideration of weight, texture, color, cut and finishing. She designs mathematically, animating geometric forms into dynamic, wearable clothing that can “lend a wearer power.”
Every collection is designed in the context of a specific environment, exploring the relationship between clothing and space. Her inspiration is drawn primarily from architecture, but also includes sonic environments and natural habitats.
Yeohlee’s work has been featured in numerous exhibitions internationally, where she has created site-specific installations at the Aedes East Gallery, Berlin; the Netherlands Architecture Institute, Rotterdam, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Her work is currently featured in the exhibitions “American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion” at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology; “YEOHLEE: Design for Now” at the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas; and “Design USA: Contemporary Innovation” at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Yeohlee received the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in 2004 for Fashion Design.
YEOHLEE : WORK published in 2003 surveys the first 20 years of her practice with essays by prominent fashion, art and design curators and critics. Former Chief Curator of the Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the late Richard Martin, writes of Yeohlee: “Her clothes conserve and impart energy for they are the synthesis of reason and magic.”
Photo Above: Yeohlee Teng at the YEOHLEE: Design for Now exhibition at the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas. Photo Credit: Chris Korbey.
To view Yeohlee Teng’s full CFDA Member profile please click here.