GRAZIA: How was your experience at the Cannes Film Festival? You looked so beautiful.
SOO JOO PARK: L’Oreal Paris is a long time partner of Cannes Film Festival, and as a global ambassador, I’m invited to walk the red carpet each year. Walking the Cannes red carpet this time was really special, especially after a year long pause.
Tell us about shooting Sportmax’s Fall Winter 21 Denim Culture Collection. We feel like this collection’s aesthetic really aligns with your own.
Yes indeed! And I felt so honored to be an inspiration for a collection that has so much character and effortless style. We shot the campaign in the centre of Milan, with the cityscape behind us…it felt urban but dreamy. I couldn’t believe that I returned to Milan for the first time in a year since the lockdown!
The fringe trio – top, pants, and dress. The collection was inspired by the roaring 20s, and I can see the reference to flapper dresses reintroduced in denim for the new millennium.
Could you tell us something about the “behind the scene” of the Sportmax Denim Culture FW21 capsule collection shooting?
We shot the campaign in the centre of Milan, with the cityscape behind us…it felt urban but dreamy. I couldn’t believe that I returned to Milan for the first time in a year since lockdown!
Do you think a denimwear item has to be always available in the perfect wardrobe?
Denim is a big part of my wardrobe. I say it’s like fine wine – it gets better with age, creating unique patina and fit that’s unique. I love them not only as classic jeans pants, but also in many different iterations, like corsets, coats, skirts, dresses.
How would you describe your style?
I like to know and keep my pulse on trends, but not necessarily follow. Having a style is more ubiquitous and impactful. To me, style is about understanding and having a point of view in how you wear and live in your clothes.
How do you style up an outfit for the day? And how long do you spend doing this?
I’ve taken more than an hour trying clothes while deciding on an outfit all just to wear a simple tee and jeans in the end because I just wasn’t feeling it. It happens more often than not! that’s why it’s good to think and have some go-to looks in advance, it gives me less stress. I’ve learned to visualize and map out my favorite pieces and basic staples of the moment, and mix them around in my head. But obviously some days I like to be more of the moment, even if it takes an hour. It’s all fun.
Where do you find inspiration for trends?
Everywhere! On the streets, in old movies and music videos, in magazines, on social media…
Beauty wise, how do you prep your skin prior to a big shoot or event?
I get a facial two-three days prior from Face Gym or this quiet spot in Chinatown. The night before the shoot or event I try to hydrate and go to bed early. The morning of the shoot or event, if I have time, I put face oil on while massaging facial pressure points and lymphatic drainage.
You are one of GRAZIA’s forever beauty muses. But who is yours and why?
David Bowie, for his bold reinventions and his infinite androgynous, ethereal presence.
What does your morning and nighttime beauty routine look like?
When I’m on a summer holiday like I am right now, I keep it really low maintenance. Just facewash and day and night serum. At the moment I’m using Revitalift Derm Intensives Serum from L’Oreal. If I’m going out in the sun, I put UV protecting fluid or emulsion.
What three products do you have inside your carry-on when travelling?
A mini hinoki hand sanitizer spray from Flamingo Estate, a stick of palo santo, and organic peppermint oil to put in my water to reduce bloating and bolster immunity.
How do you wind down in the evening?
I pour myself a glass of wine and stop replying to emails and texts, haha!
How is life in New York at the moment? After such a heavy last 18 months, it looks to be pulling in a new crop of dreamers and having a big renaissance!
New York is thriving! All the restaurants have splayed onto the sidewalks for outdoor dining, and I see a lot of people out.
How has Korea – and then California – and now New York, shaped you and your interests?
Korean culture has taught me the convenience and value to expedite and streamline process. California showed me how to slow down and appreciate nature, and New York has inspired me to become expressive and find ways of expression.
How do you think you’ve changed/evolved as a person since the beginning of the pandemic?
The pandemic brought a lot of ‘noise’ from the background to the foreground. Before we were forced to stop and halt , I would find myself silencing them or pushing them back down, because I felt like I didn’t have time…during the lockdown I decided to face them.
I now seek therapy from a counsellor every Sunday to address and wean down whatever stress and anxiety bubbles up through the week. I’ve gained a lot more courage and self-confidence through it.
How do you stay grounded when it comes to social media?
Social media has become a branding tool and an important platform in sharing a part of people’s lives. It can be difficult to separate your true self with the image you effuse on social media, and I remind myself not to get too lost or carried away. I try my best to approach with a sense of humour and levity.
We’re so impressed by your scholarship program for Asian American immigrants. You have said it’s about supporting voices from Asian American backgrounds who have faced challenges big and small. When you moved to the United States, did you face any poignant challenges you’d be willing to share?
I’d been doing a lot of soul searching to understand myself better. A large part of that was to look into some of the important factors that shaped the person I am today, and one significant truth was being a female immigrant from Asia.
It’s not easy to find your own footing in a new world as a minority, and I grew but also felt unseen or limited at times because of that.
Finding solidarity created a guidance system for me. I want to help individuals who are in a similar position to find a sense of that solidarity, that may act as an extra support.
And lastly, how can our readers help the scholarship program?
Rather than focusing on the scholarship which is (at this time) limited to US, I’d love it if we as global citizens can be more appreciative to migrant workers we come across through our day: the woman who takes our order at our favorite Chinese joint, the dry cleaner across the street, the Uber driver…ask them how their day is going. Leave an extra dollar or two in their tip jar. These little things that may seem unnecessary can help connect us and build a more inclusive community where people feel appreciated.