Meet Yeha Leung, the Designer Behind Cult-Favorite Creepyyeha
Brooklyn-based accessory designer, Yeha Leung, has carved her own path designing custom made leather belts, bras, chokers, and harness sets since 2011. Leung, who started out by sharing her work on Tumblr under the alias Creepyyeha, was originally inspired by her love of gore and horror films in her creative pursuits. When she created her accessory line, Leung stuck with the name and turned it into a brand.
Creepyyeha’s sensual but undeniably fierce imagery has caught the attention of various fans, customers and some of her collaborators such as FKA Twigs, Rihanna, Kali Uchis and Tommy Genesis to name a few. Shying away from labels, Leung views her brand as a visual diary that communicates her own world to her audience. Milk spoke with Yeha Leung about the origins of her brand, her creative process, and her recent collaboration with singer and actress Sammi Cheung.
Why is your brand called ‘Creepyyeha’? What inspired the name?
The name came before I started my brand. The name was for my online blog on Tumblr and it is a combination of my Chinese name Yeha and the word creepy. At the time, I was heavily inspired by horror films and all things gore. When I slowly transitioned into a brand, I decided to keep that name because it already stuck with many people.
Why is designing lingerie important to you? Did studying fashion in school advance this passion further?
I think it is important to make what I genuinely love wearing. The connection I have with my work is crucial in order for it to make sense. I identify my work closer to accessories than lingerie. Although I am attracted to the way lingerie makes me feel, I like to create pieces that can complement the body with or without lingerie or even styled over clothing. In my world, I do feel like lingerie and accessories go hand in hand. I love how simple it can look but how complex it can be. That balance of something beautiful and delicate yet complicated to create. I enjoy the history it tells and the possibilities of creating within it. I would say that going to fashion school helped guide me but I was never traditionally trained to make lingerie or accessories in school. It was all self-taught through curiosity.
Was it ever challenging talking about your work or topics related to sex/BDSM culture with your family? How have they responded to your journey as an artist?
Although my parents are very loving and understanding, there have been years of obstacles we overcame for our relationship to be where it is today. Growing up, I’ve always been open and honest with them so it was very progressive. I believe they thought I was a bit lost at first, but after seeing how committed I was and how others received my work, they turned around. It was a whole new world to them and now they are more open and accepting of it.
We fully support each other and they are a huge part of Creepyyeha. For instance, my mom helps me with all the legalities of the company while my dad helps me build custom tools or with finding solutions for materials. They message me randomly with ideas or inspirational things they see and want to share with me. They get really excited when they see people wear my stuff so I feel very blessed that I am able to share this journey with them.
Just recently, I was given the opportunity to dress icon Sammi Cheung with the privilege to bring my mom along with me on this journey. She watched me throughout the process of how I work- something she’s never witnessed before. This is a major deal because Sammi is well known in Hong Kong and China. I grew up watching her on TV and movies with my family so for them to finally see my work on someone who is within the world they knew was a huge confirmation.
Your designs often explore femininity and sexuality. What is your definition of empowerment?
I see empowerment in sharing confidence, vulnerability, and freedom in general. I want to live and create in a world where we can all have the right to act, speak, dress or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint from others.
In the past, you’ve mentioned your intention is not to create something that is exclusively sex-positive or exclusively for women. How does this impact your creative process?
I really don’t think of categories or ticking boxes when creating. Creepyyeha is more like a personal conversation, a visual diary shared with others. There isn’t an agenda, I honestly just want to do my best and keep everything as organic and I possibly can.
You often work with a lot of models of color. As an artist, how do you use your platform to support inclusivity?
It’s imperative for me to stand with people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized. As a child of first-generation, Chinese immigrants, I was heavily bullied in school for my appearance and ethnicity. This inspires me to change the narrative and create a more inclusive world that celebrates one another.
Is there a specific reaction or any feedback that you have received that you will never forget?
I love seeing people style my products in new ways, its really cool to see their personal take on how things can be worn.
How do you feel about the rise of BDSM and lingerie culture in fashion?
As you all may know, the BDSM lifestyle/community has existed for decades. Right now, the style is seen largely as a trend in pop media but it comes and goes. On one hand, I think it’s great because this trend helps culture throw out stigmas and taboos that usually come with clothes that are considered intimate. This exposure could open up a whole new world for people who may never even considered it before. On the other hand, I feel the same about it as any other trend. I hope people who experiment with it do it because they genuinely want to and not feel pressured to do so because it is popular at the moment. Educating yourself and always being safe is most important!
How do you deal with people who don’t understand your work or attach certain social taboos to it?
“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
― Dita Von Teese
What does a day off look like in your life? What are your favorite things to do in New York?
I am very much a homebody and dedicate the majority of my time to my work. On the days I allow myself to pause, I enjoy spending it with family and friends. I like to eat at my favorite spots and just gallery hop around the city! I am very simple and easy to please.
What are your goals for the near future, do you have any new projects you are currently working on?
I would like to do more pop-ups! I like interacting with people in person because I get to see their reactions and hear their instant feedback!
PHOTOGRAPHY AND INTERVIEW: Harshvardhan Shah
PHOTO ASSISTANT : Bethany Yeap
Special thanks to The Standard, High Line.
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