Kaal.E.Suktae: Filling the Void

Where do I start…

I should advise you in advance that I’m going to be biased with this post but for right reasons (!).

I had the pleasure and honor of meeting the top Korean womenswear designer, Lee Suk Tae, at his showroom in Gangnam. I tried to stay cool but man, was it difficult to keep myself calm the entire time I was there.
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My first encounter with his collection was through another fashion designer I met at the Fall/Winter 2012 Seoul Fashion Week earlier this year who was one of his apprentices who kindly directed me to the KAAL website which has videos of past collections.

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A few months passed and I was finally able to see KAAL up close and personal… and that’s all it took to fall head over heels in love with the brand, and my curiosity about the designer continued to grow. You can only imagine how stoked I was to be able to meet him in person.

KAAL designer Lee

I shall start by saying how great of a person he is. Well, I’ve mentioned earlier in the post that I’m going to be biased but what I really meant is that I feel a little different about meeting Mr. Lee which I think is due to the fact that he didn’t hesitate even for a minute to share his personal life with us which we greatly appreciated and found extremely encounraging. Let me just say that besides his incredible designing talent and aesthetic discernment, he’s got to be one of the most unbelievably kind and down to earth people I’ve met.
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So let’s talk fashion, shall we?

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 With white as the main color for the season, Lee seeks structural transformation through modern minimalism inspired by masculinity.

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Same dress worn by model Choi, Sora at Seoul Fashion Week. It felt amazing on. Love how the color combination and pattern is reminiscent of Hanbok, a traditional Korean costume.

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What drew me to this brand in first place was Lee’s mastery of structure and eye for detail like none other. Trained in Korea and Paris, I personally think that his pieces are a proper representation of his educational background, as I see both Paris and Korea in them. He does an excellent job of incorporating traditional aspects of Korean costume into pieces that are partly haute couture and partly parisian chic.

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Thought this would make a perfect dress for a Christmas party- definitely a unique take on a party look yet elegant, cute, unique, stylish, and gorgeous all at the same time. Perhaps this is what peplum will look like next Spring, further developed and evolved from the original?

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When asked why he got into womenswear instead of menswear, Lee humbly answered, “Honestly, I have a hard time designing womenswear because I don’t have a complete understanding of the female body. Because I’m not a woman, it often is difficult for me to find out what it would feel like to actually put the pieces on, but at the same time, I enjoy the process very much. I’ve always been the type to take the rough road than the easier one because I like challenging myself. While menswear would’ve been much easier for me, womenswear gives me a lot more freedom and options.”
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I couldn’t believe he said such a thing, because my initial impression was that he was in womenswear business simply because that’s where his passion was- obviously because he’s just so amazing at what he does. I definitely didn’t expect to hear that he specifically chose womenswear for those rather “strategic” reasons… Can we say natural born talent? I don’t know, how creative and artistically talented do you have to be to be able to voluntarily choose a subcategory (fashion design being the main category)? Many times,  some of us average folks have no choice but to go with what we are given, if you know what I mean.

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Ultra cute shorts that I literally squeezed myself into. Maybe that’s how everything should fit. I’m just not familiar with super tight things, that’s all- though, I did feel ridiculously skinny in them. Is it time to reconsider a complete wardrobe overhaul?

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How cute are those pockets peeking out like that… and that print which doesn’t continue in the back which makes it even more awesome. Amaze. Oh, I should mention about now that he’s very much into Super Man and Gundam. Do you see it?

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Don’t think I can put this outfit on again by myself, this was actually a work of a designing staff at the showroom who literally put her hands inside the shorts to pull the shirt and of course zip up the shorts because it was just an impossible task to be completed on my own.

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What KAAL is known for: impeccable details. and more details.

KE BLK As an established fashion designer in Korea who has successfully gone global (Check out his collection at Opening Ceremony), when asked if he could give an advice to aspiring fashion designers, Lee left a short yet powerful statement as follows:

“Fashion designer as a job may look glamorous on the outside, but as with any other jobs, there is a dark side to it that many do not see. There will be times when you will be disappointed and discouraged, as well as those in which you will be under extreme pressure and stress due to the unique characteristic of the job which requires to you be continuously creative and detail-oriented. Even if so, don’t ever be discouraged. Finish the race no matter what. Determination and hard work along with patience will result in rewards that are unimaginable. Enjoy the moment while being thankful for being able to do what you want. Then one day, you will receive the respect you deserve.”

“옷은 공간이다.”- 디자이너 이석태

Outfits provided by KAAL E.SUKTAE, Shoes by Jeffrey Campbell

© 2012 – 2014, Tomi. All rights reserved.

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