We sat down with Yeojin Bae ahead of her VAMFF show to chat about her favourite eating, drinking and relaxing hotspots in the Southside—and ask her about what we can expect to see from one of our favourite Australian labels on the runway this week.
Yeojin chose to meet us for lunch over some pretty amazing vegan fare (that totally didn't taste like vegan food, we promise) at St Kilda's Monk Bodhi Dharma, where we ordered the buckwheat apple pancakes served with cinnamon ice cream, maple syrup, vanilla bean whipped cream and dehydrated apple chips. Yeojin settled on one of her faves: the slow roasted king oyster, shitake, oyster & swiss brown mushrooms on a house made pumpkin, spinach & sun dried tomato polenta bread, served w/ goats cheese, thyme & red chili oil. After explaining that chili was her bae (we hear ya), she insisted we try the umami mushrooms, saying it was one of her favourite vegan dishes in Melbourne.
"Vegan, well, it's probably what I end up eating 90% of the time—it's what I cook at home. A lot of people think Korean food is all about BBQ, but it's also about a lot of amazing vegetables. I was telling my mum how popular Korean is in Melbourne at the moment! What I like about this place is that it's tasty, tasty vegan. A lot of flavour, and a little bit tucked away."
We chat about her favourite places in St Kilda—where she calls home—and she tells us she falls a little bit more in love with the suburb every day. "I'm very much a St Kilda girl—I've been here for so long. I live right near the Botanical Garden, which is beautiful. I come here [to Monk Bodhi Dharma] a lot, but I also like Kotch Lane as they do a beautiful breakfast with an Indian touch. You can get an omelette with sambal and chili—I'm in love with my strong flavours."
"We've also been going to Lau Kitchen since it opened—they make me a vegetarian version of their Mapo Tofu. I love tofu. My mum would say to me, when it was my birthday, what do you want to eat? I would ask for tofu! There's also a beautiful Japanese restaurant called Machi on Inkerman St."
Yeojin Bae's St Kilda Hotspots
Of course, we're also here to talk fashion: it is VAMFF week, after all. This year spells a nice homecoming for the fashion festival, which (after a few years down at Docklands) returns to the Melbourne Museum Precinct for 2016 in its 20th year. "I'm showing as part of the Harper's Bazaar show," Yeojin tells us. "The runway is very chic and is a lovely fit for what I do. I'm really quite excited to see it back at the original venue!"
"Personally, I think what VAMFF has got right, and what we're seeing a lot more of happening with international shows, is this model of making everything [on the runway] available now. VAMFF has nailed that model—it makes sense for consumers, and it makes sense for the brand. For us, our collection [which is available now] has a lot of colour: Melbourne might be known for a lot of black, but you've got to give people a reason to dress up! There is black in there, but there are a lot of jewel colours, hot pink, and red—red is a signature colour of mine."
"I like the idea of beautiful elegance and simplicity, pieces that you're going to be able to keep in your wardrobe for a long time."
Photo credit: Jenna Fahey-White for The Urban List