For almost two decades, fashion designer Laura Kim has carved her name in elite circles as one of the most creative and forward-thinking innovators in the industry. According to Coveteur, she began sewing when she was just three years old, and that passion led her to eventually become the co-creative director at fashion giant, Oscar de la Renta. Although she’s been a fixture in the fashion industry for years, it was during the Covid-19 pandemic that Kim’s cult following exploded. This time was also when her friendship with a group of Asians in fashion circles known as the Slaysians became solidified . The Slaysians, the original group at least, include designer Prabal Gurung, influencer Tina Leung, designer Phillip Lim and socialite Ezra J. William. As a group, they have spoken out about their experiences as Asians in a white-dominated industry and the racial bias they have had to face over the years. Kim’s meteoric rise to fashion stardom is the stuff fairy tales are made of. Here is her story, hardships and all. The seeds Laura Kim’s sewing genius Born in Seoul, South Korea, Kim started experimenting with sewing when she was only a toddler, per Coveteur. Masterclass reports that it was in Seoul where she learned the basics of pattern-making, sketching and sewing. She used to visit textile markets with her grandmother who was in the industry, and was invested in the basics of fashion design from an early age, per the same source. In an interview with Coveteur, she said she was inspired by the people of Seoul, which she describes as a fashionable community filled with on-trend streetwear. She added that, during that period of her life, she was regularly surrounded by designer backpacks and personalised touches on garments. 8 times K-pop’s ‘sold-out stars’ reigned the fashion world, from V to Jennie She left much of that creative side behind when her family moved to Calgary, Canada. Suddenly, she was living in a cowboy town, she told the publication. But she still liked to dress up and had an eye for what looked good, so her family promoted the idea of a creative career for her, she added. Taking a chance At her family’s encouragement, she attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn where she studied fashion. According to the CFDA, her talent was immediately recognised and she got scholarships from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and Fashion Group International. A number of internship hours are required of CFDA students and Kim did her stints at Jeremy Scott, Tse Cashmere and Donna Karan, reports CFDA. At the time, Donna Karan’s office was located in the same building at Oscar de la Renta. So Kim tried her luck, dropping off her CV with the iconic designer, reports Coveteur. She got the job and it was at De la Renta that she carved her mark on the fashion world. From intern to co-creative director, she spent two decades of her life at the fashion giant. Branching out and becoming an icon Kim told Coveteur she thinks De la Renta found her age “complementary” to his. She was no-nonsense and De la Renta poked fun at her demeanour. He used his office to play video games and he didn’t seem to take life seriously, she told the publication. 6 of the ever-stylish Princess Charlene of Monaco’s favourite fashion brands Kim added that he was all about “having fun and not being perfect”. It was that attitude that made his designs so whimsical and appealing to his legions of loyal fans. De la Renta died in 2014 from complications related to cancer. By the time Kim left the fashion house in 2015, she had worked there for 12 years, reports The New York Times. In 2015, she and Fernando Garcia, her design partner at De la Renta, launched their own brand, Monse. In February 2016, she also began working at Carolina Herrera as senior vice-president of design, reported Fashionista. But it was a short-lived role and, according to W Magazine, six months later she and Garcia returned to De la Renta as co-creative directors, replacing Peter Copping. Together they focus on ready-to-wear, accessories, bridal and children’s collections, per Business of Fashion. They use the same office De la Renta used to play video games in. Located in Bryant Park, New York City, much of how De la Renta had left his space remains the same, reports W Magazine. The design duo took time to come up with their own touches to De la Renta’s style. They decided on a conservative approach, sticking to what De la Renta is known for: bold prints, rich fabrics and full silhouettes, per Coveteur. The enviable Fernando Garcia partnership After graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in architecture, Garcia moved to New York City and started interning at Oscar de la Renta in 2009. He reported to Kim and, although she was “annoyed” to have him on her team at first, he eventually impressed her, per W Magazine. His partnership with Kim has been the subject of many articles and masterclasses, as the two speak about how their relationship evolved and how they manage to balance their friendship and business. Although they are both co-creative directors at Oscar de la Renta, they continue to work on their own brand, Monse. Their first spring/summer 2016 collection launched in 2015, earning major endorsements from Hollywood’s most fashionable, including Sarah Jessica Parker and Margot Robbie, reports The Business of Fashion. Monse continues to bring the duo major success and is stocked in stores including Bergdorf Goodman, Selfridges and Moda Operandi. Queen Letizia’s top 6 twinning fashion moments, from Meghan Markle to Jill Biden Kim told The Fashionography that it is through Monse that her Korean heritage is most obvious. The deconstruction and oversized look is prominent and very Asian, she told the publication. A new Laura Kim Kim is one of the most recognised Asians in the fashion game. For most of her life, she focused on work, according to Coveteur. She told the publication that when people asked her where to eat in NYC she couldn’t answer because she simply didn’t know. But that’s changed. Now Kim goes out, has a string of good recommendations and hangs out more with her boyfriend Linus Adolfsson, according to the same source. She’s cemented her friendship with Slaysians Tina Leung , Ezra J. William, Phillip Lim and Prabal Gurung. She’s also cemented her love for food. Throughout 2020, she spent many hours trying new and innovative recipes in her kitchen, per Elle Decor. A quick scroll through her Instagram page shows some of the dishes made with her cooking skills. She told Elle Decor that her evolution has spilled over into her personal style. Previously she would dress very “masculine” to work, thinking she had a big job and she was obliged to dress the part. Now she’s embracing being a woman and her personal style is more feminine and “pretty”. She’s also become more outspoken. Along with her fellow Slaysians, she lent her name and face to the House of Slay comic series. Launched in 2021, the digital comic series aims to offer an inclusive voice for the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community who are rarely portrayed in the media. Through her extraordinary talent, ability to transform herself and her designs, Kim influences aspiring designers, particularly of Asian descent, to acknowledge that they can achieve their dreams too. Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .