If you’re a fashion devotee, New York-based label Creepyyeha label is no doubt one whose artfully sexy leather pieces has caught your eye. Designed by Art Institute graduate Yeha Leung, the label began in name as a blog and evolved into a label in 2011 with a handful of custom pieces. It’s since developed into a full collection of harnesses, belts, chokers and bracelets in various textures, and colors.
In the five years since it was launched, the label has quickly developed a devoted following among stylists and entertainers with an appreciation for the sexy and unconventional. At the same time, the shy-at-heart Leung has garnered fame as street style in her own right, known for combining her designers with sheer vintage pieces, a look she wears daily and not just for special occasions.
Leung was kind enough to grant us this interview and let us in on the Creepyyeha story. Check out the exchange below.
Q: Who is Creepyyeha and how did the line start? Was it a love of bondage? Accessories? Lingerie?
Leung: “Creepyyeha is the name of a blog I started a few years ago. The name is a combination of my love for horror movies at the time ‘creepy’ and Yeha, which is my Chinese name. At first the blog was dedicated mostly to mood images, daily outfits and things I would create to wear for myself. Later on I started getting requests from people who wanted to buy the things I was making and I turned that demand into a business.”
Snobette: What influences your work and your designs?
Leung: “It all started when I was a child. Since my family comes from a very poor background, we were not able to afford a lot of things. I remember how my dad used to tape rented movies or concert films so I could watch them as entertainment during the day. He was a huge pop music aficionado and one day he brought home a copy of Madonna’s ‘Blonde Ambition World Tour.’ I remember watching it over and over, memorizing the songs, mimicking her dance moves and falling in love with her sense of style.
“At the time I was very curious as to why people would not wear such clothes in real life. I would ask my parents about it and they would say those looks were only for performance purposes. I never understood why such clothes could not be worn outside of that context. In my mind they were literally just beautiful clothes, I never considered the clothes as being sexual, I just saw beauty.”
Snobette: What was the first piece you made?
Leung: “The first official Creepyyeha product was a black headband detailed with spikes and roses. Before that I used to make plush dolls for close friends or I would customize things that I already had in my wardrobe.”
Snobette: What is your process for creating? Does it star with a sketch, color, shape?
Leung: “A mix of everything, I first study the materials that are available at hand and then, I start to experiment within those limits. I am also a huge fan and collector of vintage lingerie which gives me a lot of inspiration to source from. The good thing about being based in New York City is that you have so much access to inspiration. From burlesque shows to galleries, there is beauty in every corner of this City.”
Snobette: Have you always had confidence to wear a sheer dress, a harness and heels? What were you like as a teen?
Leung: “I have always been an introvert but I was comfortable with being loud to the eyes and quiet to the ears. Due to my shyness, I could only express myself through ways I had control of, which was choice of clothing. Like many teens, I experimented with different looks and that helped me transition into who I am today.
“When I was in high school, I liked to change my hair color frequently and I wore pleated skirts matched with garter belts with thigh high stockings and sneakers. I suppose I always took risks when it came to expressing myself through clothing. College was when I started to incorporate more lingerie into my daily wear. I was influenced by my fashion idols such as Bettie Page, Madonna and Dita Von Teese. I looked up to Bettie Page especially because she designed and made majority of the lingerie she modeled in.
“Dressing myself in sheers and lingerie always came naturally. As far as confidence goes, it comes from within. I have always worn what I wanted and never forced myself to wear what others wanted me to wear. I just see clothes in the I context of design, construction and beauty. Whatever I find attractive, if I want to wear it, I will. Creating my own definition of beauty helped my confidence. When I stopped focusing on what others perception of beauty was and only focused on mine, I became happy with who I am.”
Snobette: Do you recall the first time you stepped out wearing your pieces or visible lingerie?
Leung: “My first time wearing visible lingerie was in high school. I bought myself garter belts to hold up my thigh high stockings. I liked showing my garter straps so I wore short pleated skirts. I got bullied a lot for it but I stuck by it because I thought it looked good for me. It wasn’t for anyone else so it never mattered to me what people had to say.
“I always wore stuff I made, even if it was a little weird to the public. I remember I used to cut sheer stockings and wore them as arm warmers or cut up over-sized band tees and turned them into a tube top dresses. I also liked adding spikes and flowers onto all my shoes. This was before spikey shoes came into trend. Again, people were not kind but they were also the people who wore them once the style became popular.
“Attending fashion school opened my vision to think and create whatever I wanted. I also taught myself how to work with leather which was something I was really interested in that my school did not teach.”
Snobette: How has the demand for your pieces grown in the past year? Was it gradual or was there one event that dramatically increased the demand?
Leung: “Running a personal fashion blog helped me gain exposure to potential buyers. I suppose it was good timing because I found my niche market, so it has always been consistent since day one. There are times when some of my pieces get some commercial exposure, but as far as demand, it has been growing steadily since the beginning.”
Snobette: Are you interested in collaborating with other creatives?
Leung: “One of my favorite collaborations was with FKA Twigs. I had the opportunity to do some work for her videos and world tour. It was a very mutual and natural collaboration. We learned a lot from each other and I am extremely grateful for this experience. I’ve also had some great experiences collaborating with local and international stylists, designers, models, photographers and musicians. I also like the idea of collaborating with independent labels, since I can relate to the way they operate and we can learn and grow from each other. As long as we genuinely respect each other’s work, I am pretty much open to consider any project.
“As far who I’d like to collaborate with, it is really hard to decide. I have a long list of hopefuls. If I had to mention three off the top of my head, they would be Nobuyoshi Araki, Ellen von Unwerth and Enga Purevjav.
Snobette: What can we look forward to for Creepyyeha in 2016?
Leung: “For 2016 you can expect new products, new collaborations and always improving the quality of all of my products. I do have some big projects and collaborations lined up but I don’t wanna give out any spoilers.
“Much love and thank you for this opportunity.”