Grace Yoon on Working in Fashion PR and Production

Grace Yoon is a California soul with a New York state of mind. At only 29 years old, Grace has worked on fashion shows for the world’s top designers and brands including Michael Kors, Rodarte, Derek Lam, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co and Gucci.

Grace is a Korean-American, currently living in Northern California, who is an ESTJ (Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging) personality type according to Myers Briggs. Although many expect Grace to be serious, she is actually the most goofy person I know! “A lot of the fashion world is serious, but fashion isn’t supposed to be serious, it’s supposed to be creative and fun” Grace mentions, a mindset which has gotten her far within the industry.

Grace knew since high school that she wanted to be involved in putting on events after watching a TV programme with Brent Bolthouse, producer of Coachella’s infamous after party, Neon Carnival. Grace had no idea that you could have a career as an event planner, a natural profession for her, as she was obsessed with planning birthdays and school dances growing up. Right after high school, she came across , which is the event industry’s main resource and publication. Grace ended up driving six hours to LA to volunteer at BizBash’s annual conference, listening to their keynote speakers like Mindy Weiss and becoming inspired while she was there.

This mindset is what set Grace up for so much success later on in her career, as she is always keen on absorbing everything around her — going to new hotels, exhibits, galleries, performance arts and theater shows, and pop-up events. Whatever Grace was interested in, she explored and experienced, which she was able to use to leverage within her work.

When Grace was 20, she interned in New York City in fashion public relations at Seventh House PR and fell in love with New York, soon moving there permanently. At Seventh House she worked with brands such as Charlotte Ronson, Imitation of Christ, and many more up and coming brands. At the beginning of her career, Grace was so excited just to be in the environment — an excitement that is required to do the hard work that Grace put into the long hours and many times tedious work.

“I specifically remember Bill Cunningham showed up and overheard one of the publicists say ‘Bill showing up just validated our event.’” says Grace. DEGEN Presentation, September 2011

Grace’s next internship was with PR Consulting, working on accounts like Raf Simons and Brian Atwood. Grace had full intentions to return to California, however she received a job offer from fashion PR agency, Krupp Group as an assistant to the founder and President, Cindy Krupp. This was Grace’s first full-time job and it was an exciting time at the agency as they represented brands such as Sandro, Maje, and Rachel Comey and a number of new designers who were participating in the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund. Grace helped Cindy and the agency with anything and everything, allowing Grace to learn invaluable lessons that she couldn’t have learned anywhere else, as she was copied into every email that Cindy was on. This work was also a deep dive into introducing Grace to the fashion world, allowing Grace to figure out that she loved fashion, but did not want to stay in PR.

While Grace was still working at Krupp Group, she freelanced during a free weekend she had during fashion week as a production assistant. This was her first introduction into fashion show production and backstage management, which was more her speed than front-of-house PR. Grace ended up getting a full time offer with KCD a month later. At KCD, Grace’s role was partially assisting Julie Mannion and Jarrad Clark the President and SVP. Although the initial transition was bumpier than expected, Grace soaked in everything that she could.

Gigi x Tommy Hilfiger Rehearsal, Milan, February 2018, Marc Jacobs Rehearsal, September 2017, & Maison Margiela Rehearsal, Paris, February 2017

KCD is unique in that it is the only agency in the industry that has PR and production. At KCD, Grace found her niche in pacing, choreography, backstage and model management for the fashion shows KCD produced. In her role, Grace would work with the technical director and lay out where the models would be if they were sent at certain intervals. She would also work with the DJ’s to layer on the show music and other cues into what she calls the “pacing chart” or script for the entire show. In this job, Grace had the ability to travel all across the globe to Los Angeles, London, Milan, Paris, Nice and Seoul, over the course of three years.

Louis Vuitton Men’s Show, Paris, June 2018

At KCD, Grace experienced one of her most memorable shows, which was Virgil Abloh’s first show with Louis Vuttion Mens. Abloh is the first Black man to hold the helm of a luxury brand represented by the LVMH conglomerate, making his first show a momentous event. The show was held at the Jardin du Palais Royal and the runway was one straight path that was over a thousand feet, taking the models over three minutes to walk it’s entire length. Many of the models were friends of Abloh, including famed rapper Kid Cudi. Cudi did not attend the rehearsal for the show, and is also not a working model, so during the actual show Cudi was walking too slow and not spacing himself correctly with the other models. Grace and her boss were calling this show and noticed the gap forming between Cudi and the models in front of him, making her boss shout at him to speed up, however he remained steadfast in his “Kid Cudi walk and grin” the entire time. All jokes aside, Grace felt extremely thankful to have been part of what that moment meant in fashion. Grace distinctly remembers the energy at the show, everyone so excited and in a celebratory mood — the same celebratory feeling that lured Grace into events to begin with.

As time progressed, however, Grace still had an itch to produce more than anything and when she found no mobility in her current job, she moved to freelancing with first Maybelline and then with Bureau Betak, where she coordinated her first runway show with client Michael Kors. Soon after, Grace went to produce her first event, being the Tiffany & Love fragrance launch. Grace then signed on full-time to work at Betak working on press previews for Gucci, producing Rodarte’s show last February, as well as many other events. Having since left Betak, Grace is taking a break to reconnect with family and friends back in her hometown in the Silicon Valley.

Tiffany & Love Fragrance Launch, October 2019 (right)

Grace mentioned that she heard in a documentary Ralph Lauren say “sometimes you need to fulfill your dream to realize your true dream,” for now Grace is mulling over these words, discovering if the future has in store a new dream for her or just a bigger one.

What advice would Grace give to someone interested in producing events and working in fashion?

Intern, intern, intern she says because you cannot learn fashion production in school, you really have to get first hand experience to learn. If you cannot get an internship in the field, which are often few and far in-between, volunteer or work as a production assistant on show day, just do anything you can to be in the room, Grace advises. Plain and simple, “work hard while you are young and able” Grace says, “because hard work has a trickle down effect in terms of opportunities and learning”. You never know where all of that hard work will land you. Maybe also next to Gigi and Bella, who knows!

Originally published at http://ursuladedekind.com on November 23, 2020.