Lara by The Modsdoll

Interviewing someone who speaks little of your language is a challenge, and yet, speaking with Yian Lee of The Modsdoll, I felt my mind fill with images, inspirations and sounds that fill her day-to-day world in South Korea. She is a mother, an artist, and a business person – she is also a dreamer who seems electrified by the colors and visuals that paint her eyes with instant fashion images and beauty.

Repaints by Yian

Rarely can you fully see an artist’s vision through simple words, but as you will see below, Yian is a prolific artist. Like other doll designers such as Mel Odom and Superdoll, she coordinates a design with a team of artisans who work in tandem to bring about dolls of extraordinary beauty. But also as doll sculptors such as Robert Tonner and Paul Pham, her touch in the process is almost as strong as sculpting herself, though she does work with a talented sculpture artist to produce the characters walking the catwalk inside her mind.


The result is The Modsdoll – resin fashion BJD dolls of such astounding grace and style, they are arguably at the top of the Goddess genre, boasting perhaps the most enigmatic and breathtakingly beautiful faces in fashion dolls today. It’s doubtful you will see The Modsdoll move into larger production numbers – they are true artist dolls, and made in such limited quantity, that owning even one is an honor (such as is with my Eileen).

Eileen by The Modsdoll – Photos by Tommydoll

So join me in a virtual Korean garden, as we sit with Yian Lee and talk about what she sees when she thinks of fashion, beauty and dolls – all while enjoying an ever-so-trendy cup of Japchae, and the aroma of a green valley laced with soft modern jazz offering a gentle tune to our virtual ears.


(This interview has been edited to read more conversationally)

Tommydoll (TD): What is your design role with The Modsdoll?

Yian (YL): I design (the) total image of doll (Yian is The Modsdoll Doll Design Lead).

TD: How long has The Modsdoll been in business?

YL: I was Ficondoll co-founder and left about 4 years ago on my own (creating Modsdoll), so I’ve worked about 9-10 years in the fashion BJD industry.



TD: Where did you study art and/or design?

YL: I studied fashion design in University 20 years ago, and  then worked as fashion designer for 3 years; but I was (very) interested in facial make-up design, so I learned (those skills later), and worked 10 years as a make-up artist.

TD: Where do you find your faces – your The Modsdoll personalities? Are your (doll ideas) from your mind, or inspired by living people?

YL: (They are) Inspired (by) living people. I love to (study) people’s (facial features) and found some point (where their faces) inspire my dolls.

TD: Do you have favorite faces?

YL: Dolls- Tonner Doll’s Daphne and Sydney; Superdoll’s Sybarite; Integrity’s Fashion Royalty; and Numina Sung by Paul Pham.

Humans- Actress Tilda Swinton, Audrey Hepburn, male model David Gandy.

TD: Who designs the engineering on your doll body jointing?

YL: I (am) always interested (the jointing) and (I) played (with) my dolls for more natural moving…like a human’s. (I work with) and discuss with my sculptor (to design and modify Modsdoll jointing).


TD: Do you design The Modsdoll clothes?

YL: I do (along with) my designer, Hong.

TD: Are there others on The Modsdoll Team?

YL: The Modsdoll Team are also partners; fashion designer, sculptor, factory for production of dolls, packaging, painting and clothing/accessories).


TD: Do you paint your production dolls? Or do you only paint a prototype, and have workers help you?

YL: The production dolls are painted by my painter, and me.


TD: Are you an artist or a business person – or both?

YL: Both now.

lalala234 (1)

TD: What future things inspire you?

YL: I’ve always loves past things with future things. They always makes me dream.

TD: How do ideas appear in your imagination?

YL: Suddenly. when I see movies or listen to music, see pictures, or painted colors…or just face make-up colors, gorgeous shoes, watching fashion shows…(they inspire my imagination).


TD: Do you listen to music while you design?

YL: Yes, always. Today’s playlist are Movie La La Land Soundtrack and Coldplay.

lalala234 (2)

TD: Tell me about your favorite artists.

YL: Painter Kyung-ja Chun, Vincent van Gogh, Violist Richard Yongjae O’Neill, Pianist Glenn Gould. I love most actors and musicians.

TD: Do you follow other doll makers?

YL: Yes! (I follow) and really enjoy their dolls (Tonner, Sybarite, Fashion Royalty, Numina).

TD: Do you collect dolls? Do you collect anything?

YL: Barbies, larger size BJDs, favorite musician’s albums, all kind of Owls (dolls, cups, paintings, etc.).


Barbie, too!

TD: Many great Asian ball-jointed doll makers are in South Korea, what are your thoughts on the doll art that is coming from your country?

YL: (I collect some of them) – They are very talented and great doll makers in other countries.


TD: Do your dolls have characters in your imagination?

YL: (The characters are in the colors) Example: She is purple and green (color) – (this) means she is a ‘mysterious’ woman – because she changes her image and loves nature.


TD: What is your favorite food?

YL: All kind of noodles and seafood.

lalala234 (3)

TD: Have you traveled outside South Korea? Where? Do you have places you want to visit?

YL: Asia countries (Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines), France, England and USA.  I have plan to visit Spain this winter; but my top of the Wish List is Cuba.



TD: I can’t wait to see how Cuba inspires you. What is your favorite color?

YL: Absolutely Green.


TD: Your design appears to have both Eastern and Western influences. Do you follow fashion? Who are your favorite fashion designers?

YL: I love all kind of fashion and (I’m) very interested mixing western and eastern (influences); favorite designers are Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, Carolina Herrera, Zuhair Murad, (there are others, too).

TD: Have you designed dolls in other sizes?

YL: I have 14″ fashion BJD and she is in process. I hope that I can show her in a year.


TD: Describe what a normal day is for you.

YL: Sunny day with clean fresh air – Korea has fine particles problem (allergies and/or pollution), so we couldn’t open the window or going outside when it comes heavily. (Always with) smiles with my family and fast Internet (speed)…LOL


TD: Tell me about your family.

YL: I am married with my beloved husband of 19 years, and have two sons (14 and 17).

TD: How many doll editions has The Modsdoll sold?

YL: 24 Modsdoll models – 10~30 of each in (strictly) limited size.

TD: How many 16-inch face sculpts are there?

YL: 6 face sculpt.

TD: What are your plans for the future?

YL: New face sculpt 16″ doll will be released this summer and 2-3 dolls will be shown this year. Also, a man doll 17″ and 14″ fashion BJD is in process but not sure about (those releases yet).


Tonner Voss Repaint by Yian

TD: How do you view The Modsdoll Collector?

YL: Whenever I want to buy fashion BJD, I deeply consider my taste and doll play style. If the dolls are just my type, I order it again and again. But if it’s not my style or taste, I pass and wait for new dolls. I think The Modsdoll Collectors are (like this, too) – similar with me. The Modsdoll style is easy and familiar, so The Modsdoll Collectors feel more comfortable, and they get vicarious satisfaction.

TD: Do you plan to expand production so more people can buy your dolls?

YL: No, I will always keep the limited size because of quality.


TD: What is your personal message to new customers?

YL: Thank you for joining The Modsdoll world – you’ll get real pleasure of doll playing. Have fun!



If you enjoyed this interview…stay tuned a little later today for a sneak peek at my current Photo Shoot with one of the FIRST production Elizabet Dolls from Jozef Szekeres’ upcoming GLAMOUROZ DOLLS!

One Comment on “The Modsdoll Interview with Yian

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