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This was the last day of NYFW after Ralph Lauren in Meatpacking which has quickly become a new favorite. The last time I was there (prior to this trip) was eons ago when there used to be a Korean club. Yeah, let’s just keep it at that.
Not only was the show dreamy (coverage coming real soon), I had the pleasure of running into beauties from all over the world afterwards- some of them so influential in the realm of blogosphere my Instagram almost exploded when some of these pictures were posted. (Above with Sara Donaldson of Harper and Harley and Margaret Zhang of Shine by Three)
Kristina Bazan of Kayture
It’s amazing what these ladies have accomplished and how far they’ve come with something created out of pure passion and joy. If you ever need inspiration or motivation, or are just having one of those days, check out their blogs- these girls are on fire.
I don’t think I missed Korea as much when I was in NY or LA, even. Going through these pictures has confirmed my hypothesis that a part of me indeed had never left the city back in 2004. Who wants to join me on a teleport ride?
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What got everyone talking as soon as guests started arriving at the venue was the 1,188 glass tiles that looked definitely too fragile for models to be walking on.
Thankfully, no cracks nor injuries were evident, but could be heard was incessant waves of applause and praise.
The artistic take on runway installation was Lie’s creative way of presenting the theme of the collection entitled “Dream Road,” and the delicately painted and strategically placed tiles, along with a butterfly backdrop took us on a journey of dreams that is full of hopes and celebration of life. It is not often that a literal interpretation is more intriguing than the opposite; however the stand outs of Lie’s newest offerings were the pieces that actively and expressively embodied the theme with butterflies, clouds and the rest of our dreams reincarnated as a pleated skirt, printed trench coat, pants and silk organza dresses in architectural silhouettes, executed with precise tailoring and expert construction techniques that Lie is known for.
and while you are at it, check out Lie Sang Bong’s first ever US boutique located at 30 Gansevoort St. in the amazing Meatpacking District of New York City. You can thank me later.
Inspired by the volcanic eruption and more specifically, Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park which is known as the largest hot spring in the United States, Lie Sang Bong’s Fall/Winter ’14 collection signaled a return of the 70′s- yes, it’s no longer about the 90′s or 80′s but we are talking 70′s when it was super cool to wear wide-legged bell bottom jeans with four-inch platforms. I mean, I wasn’t there to experience it firsthand, but it does sound fascinating enough for me to reach for my flared jeans again.
Pieces ranged from 70′s big coat to elegant evening dresses bursting with bright blue and red with volcano erupting everywhere- and in the process, color blocking was executed in a contemporary manner along with expert mix-match of various textile such as wool, leather, cashmere, lace, silk, and fox.
Photos by Justin Shin, fashion photographer Seoul Korea
Everyone has their own way of expressing love for something, and when that something is your home country, you naturally pledge to ensure that you represent it the best way possible, so that it’s portrayed in the most beautiful, yet most accurate manner.
Internationally acclaimed designer, Lie Sang Bong is known to do just that, in fact, he’s known widely for his ability to incorporate culture into his collections, and for S/S 2014, it was all about flowers, more specifically the national flower of Korea, Rose of Sharon (a.k.a. Mugunghwa):
This collection illustrates the moment when the roses bloom after a long hiatus, when they celebrate life and beauty, when they finally get to unite with the wind, to dance around, to explode like the fireworks to create a summer sky bursting with colors.
While it is true that each of us naturally holds a differing view even on the smallest ordinary thing, it’s also not an easy task for one person to create a collective batch of various ideas around a certain theme and turn it into wearable articles. This is exactly what qualifies Lie as a talented fashion designer, because he never fails to materialize not only his, but dreams of many every season, he’s one the few who is able to unscramble the complexities of diversity and differing perceptions, and organize them into a harmonious assortment of artistic yet practical pieces.
Isn’t it funny where life takes you?
Sometimes, the most unexpected happens, and we don’t even realize how miraculous it is that it actually happened
because we are so caught up in the moment where the little things, the forgettables reside.
For me, this blog is one of those miracles, and I’m forever grateful for that.
Let me be honest, I stopped reading fashion blogs a while ago because I found myself strangely feeling discouraged and sometimes even paralyzed soon after. When this blog was first launched, there was no direction, no set desires, no purpose… it was kind of like an impulsive thing, just to fill this void that grew bigger and bigger as my days at the office accumulated. When I first discovered fashion blogs, it was a complete coincidence, a random encounter as it happened while looking for an outfit idea to a fashion event when my options were extremely limited due to a broken foot. While I couldn’t find an absolute and complete answer, I did discover a whole new world of fashion blogs which later indirectly but surely influenced this blog as I saw it slowly being steered in a similar direction. It wasn’t soon after that I found myself becoming just another blogger, subconsciously yet greatly influenced by what other fashion bloggers were doing regardless of what my genuine desires and interests were. Then came the negative effects, in which I started comparing myself to them…
After I stopped reading others’ blogs, I slowly found myself doing my own thing, taking this blog in a direction that I hadn’t thought of.
It naturally became a channel to introduce and share encounters in my new life in Seoul, and I found great joy in doing so.
The most important lesson I learned here is this: Be yourself.
Don’t try to be anyone else but you. If reading about others affects you in a way it affected me, stop reading and stop looking. Unless you are ready to congratulate them on their success and be genuinely happy for them, stop paying attention to them and wait until you are ready. I once thought that it was immature to feel this way, but it didn’t take long to realize that it can soon lead to something nasty because we, humans, especially girls, are wired to be that way, thanks to a complex emotion called jealousy (or envy, however you’d like to label it).
Jealousy leads to many occurrences, often bad than good. It makes us behave in a way we normally wouldn’t, it makes us say things about others that we otherwise wouldn’t have said. It wakes the evil in us, and once the devil’s out, it’s hard to stop it from doing what it does best: Making you feel bad about yourself by focusing on the negatives than the positives, eventually leading you to feel angry and resentful towards everything and everyone.
But there is a way to undo it all, it’s for you to be proactive in controlling your emotions, and furthermore, managing how they affect your happiness. You can decide to remove negative emotions by distancing yourself from the elements that cause you to become jealous, or that which creates negative feelings.
Stay away from it… until you are ready to embrace.
Now, when I decided to wait until I’m ready… things started to become clear.
My head was finally clear enough for my own thoughts to enter, empty enough to be filled with new and fresh ideas. With the purpose and vision established, the direction was finally in place. There was nobody to compare myself to, and I was happier than ever.
Yes, it all comes down to this, something I’ve been touching upon a lot lately: having confidence in who you are, accepting the fact that I’m different, and that I have something else, something new and different to offer.
As for me, it took me a while to realize and fully comprehend it, but for you, I hope what I’m writing here helps you get there a little sooner. I’m still working on it, but some day, I hope to fully embrace who I truly am, and offer the world all I’ve got by unfolding them one by one in a positive way. Until then, please feel free to join in on this journey because after all, we are in this together, this journey called life…
Thanks always for reading.
Houndstooth Print Skirt, Apron, and Vest by Lie Sang Bong. Red Patent Leather Pumps by Sergio Rossi. 2.55 Reissue by Chanel. Wide-brimmed Hat from The Block in Orange, CA.
Only a few hours before our scheduled meeting, I found out that my mom was among Lie’s first customers when he had his first boutique in Myeongdong in the 80′s. When I mentioned this to the designer, he cheerfully replied, “Your mom must had been extremely stylish to have worn my clothes back then. There was a saying that a woman in Lie Sang Bong could be spotted even from far away.”
Twenty years passed, and after a few moves within Seoul, Lie has settled in the cozy area near Coex in Gangnam, where a beautiful park is located across the street where he often takes a walk to unwind.
As we walked into the boutique, we found him busy signing his newly published autobiography for some of the major Korean pop stars, this particular one for 2AM. Since receiving a signed copy at Seoul Fashion Week a few weeks ago, I was able to learn about his life as a student, designer, father, artist, teacher, and most importantly, a man of passion and dreams.
What caught me by surprise as we walked in was how “different” the clothes looked from how I remembered them from the shows. Basically, they looked more commercial and wearable, but for older women. It’s normal for actual mass produced pieces to be different from sample pieces, but for all the disparity I was seeing, I had to start by asking what his target market was, and about the new brand, LIE.
Interviewed by Justin Shin & Karen Lee of TOMI:MITO
Translated & Edited by Karen Lee
TM: Could you tell us about LIE?
LSB: Lie is a line targeted towards younger women in 20′s to early 30′s that I launched with my son who is also a Fashion Designer; however it is mainly for international market. In Seoul, you will only be able to see it at pop-ups. Since it is a younger brand, the pieces are much more affordable. As far as the “theme” for each season, it will be a season behind Lie Sang Bong; since LSB S/S 2013 was based around butterflies, LIE F/W 2013 will be a spin-off of the butterfly theme.
TM: Where do you receive inspirations from? Do you look at other designers’ collections?
LSB: I don’t feel the need to look at others’ work, although I wouldn’t mind doing so. But the more important reason that prevents me from looking is that I just simply don’t have the time as I show my collection in Paris, New York, London, and Seoul. Since Seoul Collection is a month or two after New York and Paris, if I were only doing the former, maybe I would have time to see what others are doing, but because I am showing my collection at the same time all the other major designers are showing theirs, I just don’t have the time to do anything else besides focusing on my own collection.
TM: Could you tell us about your show prepping process?
LSM: Unless you attend every show, you probably won’t notice but every show is different albeit all being held for the same season with same pieces. While there are many different reasons why that is, some of which are rather obvious, such that some of the larger production props are just not being able to be transported, etc., some can be thought of as tailored for market/culture as appropriate. For example, for F/W 2013 Seoul Collection, I was able to do everything I wanted to, such as installing huge Korean vintage window frames to maximize the dramatic effect along with a lighted hat and all. In Paris, I didn’t even show the dress which was the finale piece here in Seoul.
TM: How did you come to develop your signature style/look? You are recognizable from miles away!
LSB: I’ve had this particular hair style for over 25 years along with these round specs. No specific reason for the glasses, it’s just that back in the days, there weren’t many choices when it came to eyewear, but as for my hair, there is a story behind it. I was at a club dancing one day… By the way, this is when I had half-shaved hairstyle. While dancing like nobody was watching, I suddenly looked at myself in the mirror and was pretty much horrified. I was sweating a lot and as you can imagine, my hair was all over my face, etc. So I went home and just shaved it all off, and voila, many years passed and it’s still here. I must have liked it? As for my beard/mustache combo, it’s simply because I don’t have time to spend on myself.
TM: Every time we see you, you are wearing black. More specifically, that black cape. Would you happen to have other colors in your wardrobe?
LSB: I’m going to surprise you by saying yes, I do. I actually wear color quite often, it just depends on the occasion and location. But mostly, I wear whatever I feel like wearing. If you see me in that black cape, it’s because I want to be comfortable. I dress for myself, I don’t dress for others. I also don’t want to stress over what I wear. I’m a designer, I design for others, not myself. On that note, I like that I can be subjective when I design, as my options are not limited to what I want to wear, but what I would like to see women wear.
TM: I’m always in a dilemma. I like wearing heels because they are what really complete a look (along with lengthening and slimming the legs), but I honestly am more about comfort. What should I do?
LSB: You should carry a pair of flats with you all the time and just switch whenever you need to. Simple.
TM: I actually do that sometimes already, but because you said it, I’m ALWAYS going to be carrying a pair from now on. Thank you.
TM: You mentioned that you used to have a half-shaved hairstyle about 30 years ago. That’s quite bold even for today’s Korean standards. Did you always like being different? Korea is known to be more conservative..?
LSB: I never cared about what others thought of me or said about me. That’s just too much headache, don’t you think? I already have too much on my plate. Why even bother? Actually, if I ever did care about that, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now. Only way to develop your own style is to do whatever you want, wear what you want, and believing in it. Besides, I never liked being around people anyway except when there are interviews. I consider myself introvert and I’m happy that way.
TM: I’m actually the same way. I’m just a lot more socially awkward than any other introverts ever lived.
“Designer is wind… water… a tear, a cloud.”
- from “Fashion is Passion” by Lie Sang Bong
TM: What is the first thing you do after the show?
LSB: The process of “Emptying.” It is very important to me, as it’s the only way I can start “Creating” again. Preparing for a show is “Filling” myself, subsequent to the show, “Emptying” by exposing myself to environment and activities that which help me become creative again.
“A person who wears fashion is what completes fashion.”
“Designer is one who creates; Stylist creates trend.”
TM: What is the process of coming up with a theme for each show like?
LSB: That’s probably the most difficult part of the show. I go through lots of books in various topics, ranging from architecture to fiction. I travel sometimes, but mostly spend my weekends catching up on movies and theatre arts, or going to museums which I find most helpful.
TM: How long does it take to create each show piece after you have decided on the theme?
LSB: That’s the easier part, because I can then focus which means my mind doesn’t need to wander anymore. That’s when comfort comes to heart, when my mind is at peace. It’s easy from there.
TM: I understand you have created many collections around a Korean theme. Does your collection always have some kind of Korean element in it?
LSB: No, not all the time. Working around a Korean theme is the most difficult, because there aren’t enough resources to refer to. I wish more designers would do it; not just fashion designers, but designers of all types.
TM: What are your thoughts on Korean fashion?
LSB: Fashion designers these days seem to know what “sells”… which is a good thing. Back in the days, we placed more focus on philosophy, the artistic aspect of fashion. We had dreams, and that’s what drove us.
TM: In the book, you mention that your dream was to show your collection in Paris, and that was achieved quite a while ago. What now?
LSB: The only one who can say that he’s achieved his dream is one who is about to pass away. I have bigger dreams now, which is to travel the world and continuing to be an ambassador of Korean culture and tradition through fashion.
TM: Can we talk about education a bit? How can one become a Fashion Designer?
LSB: Exposure comes first, not Learning. Many parents seem to think that putting knowledge into children as early as possible will help them become smarter or better, but the truth is, what they are exposed to is so much more important than what is (often reluctantly) deposited into them.
TM: Basically you mean instead of learning how to draw an apple, it’s better for them to play with one, eat one, or maybe even picking one at a farm.
LSB: Yes, by “learning,” you are only limiting a child’s potentials.
TM: As a psychology major, that totally makes sense. Everyone has his/her own unique way to process thoughts, and by training everyone to structure their thinking in a certain way, you only limit their true potentials when they may naturally have had a different yet creative way to do so.
TM: Are there things we can do to think more like a designer? What are some of the things we can do on our own besides schooling?
LSB: Compare and contrast. Practice paradigm-shifting. In order to develop your own style, it’s important to know and fully understand what others are doing. For example, to develop a new style incorporating Korean culture, you need to know what those in Western country are doing with their own culture. As for paradigm shift, you really need to start thinking differently- for example, I turned a traditional Korean hair accessory into a brooch for one of my collections.
TM: Yes, you also had a necklace that looked like a vintage Korean doorknob at the last show. Brilliant.
“There are certain activities I do to enhance my creativity, one of which has now become more like a hobby. Before I fall asleep, I close my eyes and think about everything that happened that day, backwards.”
“I’ve lived a life that is full of passion, sometimes having to fight against myself. Many years may have passed but I’m still learning about myself. What I do know so far is that fashion is my destiny and purpose. So far, I’ve been running a race only looking ahead, but from now on, I want to pay attention to what’s happening around me, too. With this upgraded mindset and passion that constantly and unceasingly seeks challenge, I want to continue walking the path that has been given to me. I am where I am because of all those who sacrificed for me and helped me along the way, and some luck too, considering my skill-set. On that note, I would like to thank everyone who knows me and has been with me.”
- Fashion is Passion by Lie Sang Bong
It’s not easy to get to the top, but it’s even more difficult to stay there. As the most prominent fashion designer in Korea, Lie Sang Bong’s show always ranks among the best, if not the best. Not only this man an unbelievably talented artist, he’s among the most approachable, kindest fashion designers I’ve ever come across.
Inspired by vintage Korean window frames, Lie’s F/W collection has been convincing enough to make us believe that it is indeed possible for a non-big-name Italian or French designer house to create something completely new that’s both inspiring and intriguing. (Just another proof that you don’t have to be Marc Jacobs or Olivier Rousteing to “create”.)
What’s most Korean is the most global, and this seems to be something Lie also believes in- not strategically planned but more so intrinsically, which is why his collections are always most captivating for me, as a Korean American who holds Korea dear to heart.
While I always appreciate the designer’s consideration of placing a copy of press release on top of the seat before the show, this seemed exceptionally critical for this show as the experience wouldn’t have been the same had I not informed of the designer’s inspiration and theme for the collection which became prevalent more so towards the climax.
While many may suggest more “wearable” pieces, I actually like that Lie leans towards “artistic” side of it all- after all, what does “wearable” mean anyway? To me, these pieces are not only wearable, but are amazing statement pieces that I would pair with anything and everything.
Lie’s own reinterpretation and appreciation of the 50′s retro style, this window frame pattern is not only graphically displayed, but even reflected throughout on the silhouette of dresses and coats that possess both drama, emotion, and modernity.
Again- blue is the color of the season. (I must have said this at least 10 times already here. lol Just means it’s about time we consider adding it to our wardrobe.)
This trench coat… is love. <3
I’d feel so proud to rock this outfit in another country. I’d feel like I’m carrying a piece of Korean tradition and culture with me and showcasing it to the world, like a human billboard of some sort… but in all seriousness, I would definitely make some friends wearing this out. So awesome.
This… should have been my wedding dress. Only if I had been in Korea at the time.. hmm.
Well, who says I can’t marry again? To the same person?