By Lee Hyo-won
BEIJING _ It was like a magical journey through time and space, from Renaissance Europe to ancient Korea with a glimpse of modern China.
Korea's top designer Andre Kim unveiled his 2011 spring/summer collection at Asia's largest fashion exhibition CHIC. It was the grand opening show commemorating the World Fashion Festival's Korean wing, held Tuesday at Beijing New China International Exhibition Center.
The event took place as part of "Preview in China 2010", organized by the China National Garment Association, China World Trade Center and Beijing Fashion Expo, and under the auspices of the Korean Federation of Textile Industries.
The event, attended by some 350 VIP guests, including Kim Kyung-jong, minister counselor to the Korean embassy in China; the Korea Fashion Association's chairman Won Dae-yun; and over 150 reporters from near and far.
The designer revealed 144 pieces of his new fashion art collection in six thematic stages.
The show opened with modern urban wear inspired by the host city of Beijing. Female models showed off white power-shoulder jackets paired with balloon skirts and graceful A-line dresses to peach-hued and plum colored full-length skirts to lacy black cocktail dresses. Most notable however were the bright red tweed skirt and pant ensembles. Male models showed off white, as well as white and navy tweed suits with large corsages.
This was followed by "Legend of China", which reflected Kim's interpretation of traditional Chinese aesthetics with a contemporary twist. Models showed off pastel purple and baby blue outfits with silver fish, dragon and tree motifs often found in traditional Chinese paintings.
"It is a great honor to be here in Beijing, China", Kim told reporters in a press meeting after the show. "We Koreans have great respect for China and the Chinese people".
He continued to explain that he was greatly inspired by China's history and the beauty of the royal court.
The third stage continued with an array of stunning chiffon evening dresses motivated by the Byzantium period. The palette ranged from crimson to orange, fuchsia and yellow and black. Also seen was medallion-studded menswear along the lines of something Napoleon may have worn.
The special models for the event were popular actors Lee Soo-kyung
and Jung Gyu-woon
, who became household names through the TV soap "Love You a Thousand Times
The pair added a dramatic touch to the event by walking the runway together to a mellow ballad song, not forgetting to pause along the way to lock eyes and exchange soulful glances. The audience became fully captivated as the lovers of the hour parted ways, with Lee leaving a broken-hearted Jung clutching his chest alone.
The show then took the audience westward, to Renaissance Europe. A visit to the Musee du Louvre in Paris seemed unnecessary; fine arts fell in love with la mode as models were draped in canvas-like long, tunic dresses with constructed power shoulders and matching shawls showing off Raphaelite angels, gods and martyrs.
The fifth stage featured "Fantasia of Korean Ancient Kingdom" _ opulent, golden embroidered creations that evoked ancient Korean court costumes, though with a touch of modernity with pleated pants.
The show culminated with an air of serenity, as models clad in glittering gossamer chiffon wedding dresses _ ranging from empire waist styles and puffy avant-garde looks to tube tops with ruffles galore. Lee in particular wore an unbalanced, mermaid-style dress, while her co-star also looked handsome in a pure white tuxedo with a sparkly brooch.
Kim was first invited to showcase his pieces in China by the Olympics Organization Committee here in 1993, in time for the first anniversary of Korea-China diplomatic relations. He has since been invited back about a dozen times to hold fashion shows in Shanghai, Chengdu and Hong Kong.
The designer has put on fashion shows at spectacular venues with places such as Angkor Wat, Cambodia and the Egyptian pyramids as backdrops. But his dream to exhibit his fashion art at a special place in Beijing has yet to come true _ "I hope to hold a show at the Forbidden City in Beijing one day", he said.