Dior's New Jewelry Designer Is One To Watch

Photo: Matthew Sperzel/Getty Images.
Korean-American jewelry designer Yoon Ahn has dressed everyone from Rihanna to Kanye West with her slick hip-hop-inspired brand AMBUSH, the 2017 LVMH Prize finalist label she runs with her partner, the rapper Verbal. In April of this year, Ahn's friend and longtime collaborator Kim Jones appointed her as Dior Homme's jewelry designer when he took over as menswear artistic director of the French house.
Ahn's first collection for the brand, presented in June, saw models adorned with signet rings on every finger, monogrammed gold studs, safety pin earrings, and a street-inspired refresh of Dior's signature bee. With a roster of fans including Naomi Campbell, Kim Kardashian West, Skepta, A$AP Rocky, and Kate Moss, it's fair to say the industry has fallen for the designer. And with an AMBUSH pop-up with Amazon coming soon, and a Nike collaboration on the books for December, her influence is really only just beginning.
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Below, we caught up with Ahn to see which pieces of jewelry she can't leave the house without, how she first met Kim Jones, and how her first collection for Dior came to life.
Tell us about how you first got into the fashion industry.
"I didn’t go to fashion school and hadn't worked in fashion before. Verbal needed jewelry for his stage outfits, but we couldn’t find what we wanted in the existing market, so we started to design it ourselves through a few jewelry makers we had met in Tokyo. We started off with 18-karat gold fine jewelry, but from those special pieces we went on to make small POW! rings and pendants for ourselves and to give out to friends — the rest is history."
And from there AMBUSH was born?
"We were making a few pieces for fun, and fun can only last so long. There comes a point when you have to really decide if you can take things further or not. Around 2012 we started to put out proper collections, so I personally think that's when we kicked off as a brand. I feel like every day since has been like being in school. Everything has been learned on the job."
Photo: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images.
You and Verbal are quite the power couple. What is it like working as a husband and wife duo?
"It's not as hard as people make it out to be. I think it's because we're both are clear about what we're doing for the company and know each others strength and weaknesses, so its easier to work it all out."
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You've dressed some of the biggest names in the fashion and entertainment industries. What do you think draws them to the brand?
"I think the boldness and uniqueness of it speak to them. Actually, I would like to know too! I think they just liked it and wore it."
Is there anyone you'd love to see wearing AMBUSH?
"I just love people who are comfortable in their skin. They are the ones who embrace the style in their own way. If I could dress anyone it would be Cindy Sherman; it would amazing to see how she interprets the pieces into her work. Also, I would love to design custom pieces for characters in a sci-fi movie one day."
You're known for your raw aesthetic, from padlocks and chains to safety pins and crystals. Where do you find the inspiration for these details?
"In everything, from the spirit of punk to tribal adornment. They all have a sincere rawness in self-expression that really inspires me. Jewelry doesn’t have to be about status. Jewelry should be an extension of self-expression."
How did you first meet Kim Jones?
"We have known each other for over a decade, before his turns at Dunhill and Louis Vuitton. We first met in Tokyo through Kanye [West], backstage at a Teriyaki Boyz gig, when Kim [Jones] was working with him on his Pastelle clothing line."
What do you like about him?
"He is a designer’s designer. I've always had so much respect for him and have learned a lot from him. It's so wonderful that we can finally work together."
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And what about Dior?
"It's the one of the oldest and best couture house in the world. The richness of its heritage and in its archives are just out of this world. It's a huge honor for me to be there."
Your first Dior Homme collection in June was beautiful. What did you want to do with your debut for the brand?
"It was so beautiful and elegant! Of course, the pieces complement the clothes, but more than that, I wanted to bring the couture side to the jewelry but also make it wearable for both men and women. Pieces you would wear whether you're dressing up or down. I think that’s really the modern way of dressing."
What kind of jewelry do you personally like to wear?
"My own AMBUSH pieces mixed with vintage, and now Dior Homme pieces, of course! I couldn't go without short necklaces, earrings, and rings."
What are you excited about right now beyond fashion?
"There's so much more to life outside of fashion! Right now, I'm kind of obsessed with A.I, Androids, and Humanoids. It's only matter of time and technology development before they catch up with — or even become smarter than — us. It's made me ask: If they become more human than humans, what ultimately makes us, us? Just something to think about..."
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