Chic yet classy modern-day designs and earth tones exuding the essence of Asia are the latest statements from Korea's leading fashion designer, Andre Kim.
The nation's fashion guru shared provocative and commanding designs at his latest fashion show Tuesday evening, during the 2008 Fashion Bali Week taking place until Friday on the Indonesian island.
"I wanted to present an international atmosphere with culture and art, not only commercial fashion, but also artistic and dramatic and cultural fashion", Kim told reporters after his fashion show held at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park.
The pioneer of Korea's fashion industry was one of the few prominent international designers invited to the annual fashion event in Bali, which is famed for its heavenly beaches and fusion of Eastern and Western cultures.
Designers have gathered this year under the theme "Fashion Meets Nature: A Celebration of Life".
Kim, introduced as a "fashion maestro" at the international fashion festival, exhibited a wide range of designs through six different stages. The first round, titled "World Festival for 2009", introduced next year's spring and summer collections.
"I wanted to present a collection for a very futuristic fashion. The opening stage -- stage one -- was aimed toward an international atmosphere, a very creative one for the future, for year 2009, for my spring and summer collection", Kim said.
The second stage offered his interpretations of the host country under the theme "Legend of Bali, Island of Gods".
"I wanted to present the beautiful cultural heritage of Indonesian and Balinese history; I wanted to recreate in my designs with the touch of inspiration from Bali and so I started with Balinese traditional designs", Kim explained.
The icon of Korean fashion and culture suggested the Indonesia-inspired works were the results of at least one year of preparation.
"This week's fashion week theme is 'nature'. I visited here last year, as well as about two months ago to collect some traditional paintings from Balinese painters and artists, so I could recreate (the images) with digital print in my designs", Kim said.
He noted a similarity existing between Korean and Balinese traditions, as well as a common thread running through humanity.
"When I did designs for traditional Balinese designs, (I found that) the motif is very similar to Korean and European (traditions) -- very international motifs in Balinese traditional dress and customs, so I do feel great pride for Korea and Asia and the Orient", Korea's father of fashion said.
"I wanted to show the wonderful, wonderful heritage of culture and art from Asia and the Orient to the world".
The third stage showcased evening dresses under the theme "Romanticism of Victorian Dynasty".
The fourth segment was devoted to Kim's mother country through the theme "Unforgettable Fantasy in Kingdom of Korea and the Orient".
Stage five was titled "The Secret Mystery of Seven Veils" and stage six "Divine Wedding of Swan Castle".
"In the fourth part, I wanted to present Korean traditional designs from the ancient royal kingdoms of the Yi, Koryo and Shilla dynasties", Kim said, stressing that he has "great pride for his country".
He reinforced his passion for his homeland and Asia saying, "I love my country, the history of culture and its heritage. I love Asia and the Orient. I am Asian and I am Korean, so I wanted to recreate our royal kingdom and our traditional customs for an international atmosphere, not only for Korea but also for the Asian heritage".
Kim offered a satisfying and bright end to the six-part fashion show by the way of a love story stricken with loss and departure. Kim featured rising Korean actor Park Si-hoo
and actress Han Chae-young
as the hero and heroine to illustrate the love story through his dramatic designs.
"The last part was for everlasting happiness of weddings", Kim said.
The first Bali Fashion Week took place in 2000. Its aims have been to promote the fashion industry at large, while supporting the advancement of both local and international designers.
Ika Butoni, the Indonesian chairwoman and organizer of the annual event, stressed the importance of such events to promote not only the global fashion industry but also help strengthen the Indonesian economy.
"Bali fashion week is very important not only for the fashion industry, but after I've seen the problem of the Indonesian economy, I knew I had to start moving to help revival of this country as well; that's why I started the Bali Fashion Week", the pioneer of Indonesia's fashion industry told reporters.
Butoni is based in Hong Kong and sells her designs to 35 countries in the world.
"Bali is an island where every corner is a culture, it's such a beautiful and marvelous place", she said. "I feel that this place can be the Cannes festival of the world but in fashion, not because I choose it to be but because the place already supports the cause".
The festival receives the support of the government and various private local and international businesses, along with the involvement of the fashion community of Indonesia. The weeklong event also features a trade exhibition, seminars and open dialogue with designers.
"To do a show in an international spot is good for raising one's profile in the international market", Andrew Caruthers, the Los Angeles, California-based business advisor for distinguished designer Oliver Tolentino from the Philippines, told The Korea Herald. Tolentino was one of the world-class designers invited to exhibit masterpieces at the fashion week.
Kim said it was a "dream come true" to take part in Bali Fashion Week.
"I wished in the future that I could have a fashion show in Bali because it is the most beautiful island for many around the world, which is also considered the last paradise in the world", he said, explaining that his wish came after his first encounter with Bali in 1988.
"Finally my dream came true because they invited my fashion tonight", Kim said.
By Yoo Soh-jung