Jenny lee creates the images she wants to see
The model and designer muses on CULTIVATING HER STYLE AND expanding the beauty standard
Words by Tierney Finster
Photos by Kofi Dua
Jenny Lee (@Jennynylee) may be fresh out of design school at Parsons, but her fashion sensibilities are already well established.
She makes fitted clothes that emphasize her body shape and flatter women under 5’7. Prior to graduation, Jenny designed a collection of clothes around clothes specifically intended for her own body type – short and petite. Her motivation was simple but twofold – to make clothes that she felt great in and to create clothes that exalted a stature typically ignored by fashion.
Sure, there’s Kate Moss, the quintessential example of a supermodel who isn’t super tall, but as Jenny explains, most models under 6’0 are denied serious opportunities as models. At 5’5, she doesn’t want to be an exception to the rules of the modeling world. She wants to throw the rules out all together.
Jenny tells TRASH about changing what types of people the fashion industry holds in high regard, creating content for Instagram and how moving from Shanghai to New York impacted how she dresses.
THANK YOU FOR BEING A TRASH ANGEL. WILL YOU TELL US ABOUT A MOMENT OF CREATIVE TRANSCENDENCE THAT MADE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU “EARNED YOUR HALO?”
When I accomplished my four year course at Parsons. I recently graduated, so I’m still feeling that. Also, I’m proud that I’ve been meeting with different agencies and going on different castings. That’s been a big step for me because I really want to get more into the modeling side of fashion. I’ve been wanting to focus on modeling more for a while, but I was a full-time student up until recently, so I’m ready now.
WHAT IS ONE TRICK THAT ALWAYS IMPROVES YOUR SHOOTS?
I feel like the more pressure you feel to take a picture, the harder it is to get a good result quickly. I like casual looking pictures. My advice on how to get great content is to go out with your friends and have fun. Take pictures that way. Also, I always try to make sure the light is on my face.
YOUR LIFE HAS STRADDLED DIFFERENT CONTINENTS AND CULTURES. HAS THIS IMPACTED YOUR STYLE?
It’s crazy. Back in Asia, people dress really conservatively. It’s very different than how people dress in New York or the rest of the United States. I went to an international school in Shanghai so there were people from different countries. It affected my style. I don’t dress like a lot of the locals in Korea or China. Since I got to New York, my style is more Americanized. I’m more confident in the way I dress. I think it has a lot to do with shame.
Back in Asia, more people stare at you if you show of your body or wear clothes that expose it more. The attitude is more, “Are you a slut?” There’s a whole different attitude towards wearing these kinds of clothes here. It communicates more of a message of, “Yes, I’m confident. Yes, I like my body.” My style is definitely impacted by these cultural differences.
I’m passionate about modeling. I’ve been wanting to focus on modeling more for a while, but I was a full-time student up until recently. I want to experience the modeling side of the industry more.
WHO IS A CREATOR THAT INSPIRES YOU?
I really like Devon Aoki because she’s on the shorter side of models at 5’5, the same height as me, and she’s asian. Her presence in the industry inspires me a lot. Asian-Americans aren’t very visible in fashion, and we definitely need more exposure.
WHAT DO YOU CRAVE ON YOUR LUNCH BREAK?
Sushi or a smoothie. I love salmon – anything with salmon works for me. I like strawberry-banana or mango smoothies.
WHAT’s a habit THAT YOU WANT TO STOP?
I’d like to stop overthinking. It is easy to think about something you want to do than actually doing it. It’s hard to put things into actions. I want to stop overthinking things and just go with it.
WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING?
Changing the standard of beauty in the fashion industry.That’s what I’m going through right now – fighting for what I want. People who feel unique shouldn’t feel less confident or less motivated to pursue their dreams. Creation starts from being different.
WHAT’S A QUESTION YOU’D LIKE TO ASK A CREATOR?
What motivates you to start a new project?
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