Now only if someone would explain what “Studio K” means, or where in the world it’s located, at least.. really hoping it’s not in Garosugil or somewhere in Gangnam where the designer Hong, Hye Jin’s office is located because that’d immediately take all the fun and fantasy out of it. Hence I digress…
A border, whether it divides countries, or two different types of elements such as the land and the water, plays a critical role in a world that mainly deals with things of visual nature as that’s what makes layering and interaction possible.
Hong applied this idea to her spring collection by using loads of graphics and layers to recreate the division, layers and interactive interface that occur as a result of border’s existence. Not that it’s a rather serious topic to be dealt with particularly for fashion which is often considered shallow and fleeting, it’s undeniably an interesting thought to play with, especially for those living in a country that suffers from a painful division of the land, and also one that is surrounded by the sea. But why does any of that matter when results are exuberant and just straight out pretty like this (this includes boys’ stuff)? Isn’t that how our lives are? We all in a way live a life that is contradicting; by distracting ourselves with things that are lightweight and superficially exciting, we try to turn away and forget about the not-so-great part of our lives, which in the end (unfortunately and ironically) turns out to be most important. In that sense, why don’t we just start lusting after model turned actress Lee, Sung Gyung’s plump lips? The real question perhaps should be, “How in the world is that possible for a Korean?”
As one of Korea’s most long-running and experienced womenswear fashion designers, Gee Choon Hee never fails to present a show that is both dramatic and romantic. Her Spring ’15 collection wasn’t an exception as she attempted to illustrate “unconsciousness” through the use of calm colors and clean silhouettes with minimal stitch work all the while keeping her signature romantic mood actively breathing throughout the entire collection. While the pink and mint lizard ensembles came and went unexpectedly which was somewhat distracting, perhaps “sexy” is another essential part of human nature that innately resides in the unconscious.
Photo by Justin Shin, Fashion Photographer Seoul Korea
At first glance, Yang’s designs look particularly feminine, but look twice, and you’ll see that it’s so much more than that: there’s something modern, artistic, strong and even empowering in them that makes it not just another “pretty” womenswear collection but an exceptional one at that. In congruence with the theme, her spring offering has proven to be “dreamy” indeed, which was emphasized with a use of variety of sometimes contrasting materials such as taffeta, silk and denim magically weaved into pieces that are romantic and classic provided by the positive energy of the post-World War II era and the exhilarating cultural phenomena of the 40′s such as the swing dance and women’s liberation movement. While she had us sit on the edge of our seats anticipating for the next look every time a model walked out, there was a constant that could be felt throughout the show: freedom. Yang may have worked around a rather often visited theme, but what really made it a unique, fresh collection is the “freedom” she allowed herself to explore and embrace which was another element of inspiration behind the offering.
So apparently I’m either prophetic or secretly possess some kind of superpower that allows me to see people’s past without having studied it. A close source tells me that the designer of the uberpopular brand, Push Button, used to be a stylist. And not only that, he was a model too. Although I only got the first half right, I must say I was pretty shocked to find out. And on that note, I cautiously assume he never quite received full training in fashion design (not that it matters when your stuff is good) as I’m unable to locate such info anywhere on the cyberspace. But really, who cares. If anything, aren’t we all tired of seeing institutionalized people making same stuff over and over? For one, I’ve recently become a huge fan of the self-trained French designer, Jacquemus, well, because he’s the most creative, artistic individual I’ve come across recently (albeit only in cyberspace, unfortunately- I’m sure he’s a nice guy in person too). But if I had to be completely honest, the reason why I began considering Park more of a stylist than a fashion designer is I always felt like his collection was missing that certain “something” even after being almost always particularly entertaining and memorable. It turns out the looks are “made” to look good with exceptional accessorizing and styling. The question was, ‘If he were to show each look with no accessories at all, or minimal styling work involved, would it still be interesting?’ The answer, at least this time around, was no, because as you can see, what really completes the look is not the dress nor the layered bra, but the matching headband, jeweled cat eye sunglasses and big, big hoop earrings. But what is there to complain when the collection looks awesome and maybe even covetable?
With the iconic painter Frieda Kahlo as an inspiration, Park pushes the button yet again through his own world of wit and glamour where vintage and future meet- which sometimes turns out to be a bit awkward yet strangely in a good way. That must be a talent.
One great thing about having experienced a not-so-memorable past collection is that there is something to look forward to in the next season. And this season, Cres. E. Dim., comes on strong with a collection filled with engaging pieces that not only prove that he’s a qualified designer but that he can embrace and reinterprete “norm core” in his own, unique way using elements found in Korean school uniforms from the 70′s. There were jerseys, mesh sweaters, trench-inspired sport coats, culottes and even bucket hats to add to the list. While it is uncertain whether he meant the band or the artist when he mentioned Yves Klein Blue as part of inspiration, this sporty yet relaxed approach to casual wear sure seems to be working for the brand.
You know it’s a good show when you start anticipating the next look. Quite simply, what sets a good collection apart from those that are average is one that which presents something new in every single look yet mindfully follows the theme by placing main elements of the collection in each look. It should be clear what the designer is trying to convey, and it should be illustrated in the pieces that are made with the highest quality and finish. We have all done some type of presentation in school that required nothing but the best in us because the presentation, in a way, represented who we were- it was a chance to show them what we were capable of. A fashion show isn’t much different- only that an event in this scale should consist of results that offer a lot more at a much higher level.
J KOO is a brand that knows what’s up. And I mean it- are they not only the most well-trained and prepared duo, but they are one of the few designer brands that shows during Seoul Fashion Week that have mastered the basics of fashion design. What that means is that they have the ability to cover from A to Z with their very own “kick” added, all the while keeping them “cool” and practical enough to lure fashion fans from all over the world. The pieces are not only one of a kind, but with wit and quality that you’d expect from a luxury designer brand- but more important, they are trendsetting while also being timeless and sometimes even free from circumstantial factors. These are clothes you want to go out in, party in, meet cute boys and girls in, pray in, and to sleep in. I know, because I’ve experienced them firsthand.
It isn’t difficult to conclude that tennis is rather a fashionable sport, and it really got me curious when the designer told me that they were inspired by tennis wear from the 1920′s to 1930′s which looked something like this and this. While it’s not the first time high fashion has played tennis, compared to Jean Paul Gaultier’s luxurious take, J KOO presents younger, casual variations with mini fringes, pleats and their signature “undone” edges. Having a menswear background for the duo gives them a competitive advantage by allowing them to experiment with womenswear while creating everything with top notch tailoring. It may seem common sense, but at the end of the day, what truly matters is whether fashion designers know how to design. If you are wondering why I’m saying such a thing, try seeing 200 shows a season. You can kind of start giving brands grades, trust me.
Photo by Justin Shin, fashion photographer Seoul, Korea
The question is, just how far we can go with the bandage dresses.. Kudos to the design team at Max Azria for their relentless attempts and success at creating seemingly endless collections of body-con dresses season after season, which this time around received a bit of “power” with inspiration coming all the way from Japan. It’s one thing to be a strong woman, but to look this sexy being one is not the easiest feat. If you were guessing “Geisha” the moment Japan was mentioned, you were right, albeit partially. Hervé Léger’s spring collection is a reinterpretation of Japan’s female warriors called onna-begeisha; what she would have been if she were to come home after a long day at a battlefield- or, on her “off days” having a brunch somewhere hip, let’s say Downtown LA. This alone should explain the Kimono reference that’s rather obvious, though this woman isn’t only a fighter but is confident about her body and sensuality- so much so that she rocks skin-tight clothes that are considered the toughest to pull off- that which pretty much reveal every curve and not-so-curvy parts of the body. What seems to matter the most however, is embracing and enjoying being a woman no matter what, one who is strong not because of her social position or wealth but simply because of who she is. On that note, this is a collection that is both empowering and creative, and that’s enough to leave us anticipating the next collection for sure.
It’s infinitely great when the designer knows what she’s good at, and even better when she doesn’t hesitate to focus on the exact stuff that made her who she is. Denim, shredded denim in particular, is undoubtedly Kiok’s specialty, and the minute top model Soyoung Kang opened the show with a denim jacket that’s two things awesomely beautiful: distressed and white, it finally felt safe to breathe a sigh of relief. There were no surprises, but it was a concise display of Kiok’s history, and where it will be heading from here. One thing is clear: it’s all about denim, and that is enough to keep the fans happy.
Photo by Justin Shin, fashion photographer Seoul, Korea
A designer who is on a constant search for harmonies and collisions that emerge when contrasting elements are met, Moohong Kim of designer label, Moohong, seeks communication between fashion and humanity in his spring collection through a simultaneous study of ethnic codes and modern street aesthetics. With emphasis on cultural diversity, the collection is a daring attempt at effortless utility chic in variants of monotone that gets more interesting when movement is added. While it was undoubtedly one of the more refreshing shows, whether intended of not, spirit of Antwerp Six could be felt but with a Korean touch (Ann Demeulmeester and Haider Ackermann in particular come to mind; and Alexander Wang when boxers started showing up- but then again, that’s not a patented or copyrighted idea).
As Korean fashion continues to seek its place on the global fashion map, it seems imperative to first figure out what is quintessentially Korean; that which cannot be replaced, one that which makes it covetable by not just average consumers who seek lower priced fast fashion, but fashion forward consumers who are looking for a luxurious alternative that’s fresh, classic and timeless.
Photo by Justin Shin, Fashion Photographer Seoul, Korea
It’s always fascinating to meet a person with a different background (which would basically be just about everyone), especially one exposed to multiple cultures from a young age. Not only is there a lot to learn, but they tend to bring a fresh perspective to otherwise everyday things.
New York based, China-born and Hong Kong trained fashion designer, Vivienne Tam, has been offering Eastern-inspired clothing with a modern edge since a launch of her eponymous brand in 1994. Her “Forbidden City” inspired spring/summer ’15 collection is no exception; in abundance were rich, saturated colors and exotic patterns reminiscent of artworks preserved at the World Heritage Site. Particularly compelling were nature-inspired embroidery work combined with a sporty vibe as seen in techno power mesh dresses with exotic imagery such as flower and landscape embroidery, or laser cut appliqué which were all too realistic and convincing with a spoonful of hipster cool. Perhaps what makes this collection extraordinary is that it’s where traditionalism and modernism, and nature and future coexist oh-so-harmoniously. There’s geometry, femininity, technology; and the way they complement each other is in all likelihood not much different from how her Chinese and HK upbringing and the time in New York have helped shape her as a prominent fashion designer, and an urbanite who doesn’t only embrace but celebrates her roots time after time.