There have been many milestones in Eugenia Kim’s expansive career, from iconic celebrity moments and having her designs in films to winning the CFDA Award for Accessories Designer of the Year. Last February, she celebrated yet another one, as she honored two decades of her namesake brand with her 20th-anniversary retrospective, which featured some of her most memorable styles. The celebration continues with the launch of an exclusive capsule of the iconic designs at Barneys.
“I went through 20 years’ worth of product and looked at old Polaroid photos just trying to think of what people would remember me for,” says Kim. “Whether that was Jennifer Lopez at the VMAs wearing my designs or Madonna modeling a cap in L’Uomo Vogue, or even the haircut hats i made for Zoolander—there just have been so many moments.”
Creating the special capsule for Barneys brought a sense of nostalgia for the designer, as it was the first retailer to pick up her collection in 1998. Kim explains that it had been a goal of hers to be stocked at Barneys, but things didn’t exactly go according to plan after her first meeting with Sarah Blair, SVP/DMM for Women’s Accessories. “Sarah had seen my line in ’98 and said that she liked it, but I was so unexperienced at the time that I assumed it meant she was buying it! The New York Times wanted to run an article about me in their style section, and when they asked where Eugenia Kim hats would be carried I blurted out, ‘Barneys New York.’ Sarah called me the next day and was like, ‘You can’t just say that without an order…but now we need to get the hats in the store ASAP!’ That’s how it all started,” she laughs. Needless to say, the two laugh about the story now, and Blair says, “My initial impression [was that she was] an earnest designer with a lot of moxie. Sometimes you just have to cannonball from the onset!” Eugenia Kim’s hats have been stocked at Barneys ever since.
Now, 20 years later, the anniversary collection includes mini berets, Madonna’s leather cap, the iconic haircut hats, the Ciggy Fascinator (originally worn by Kim to accept her CFDA Award in 2004), and the playful Eyela Headband and Maki Fascinator. As for the future of the brand, Kim wants to continue to branch out into other accessory categories and perhaps expand into bridal. With her eye for fashion-forward styles and creative approach to design, the whimsical label is sure to have continued success for decades to come.