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Fall in Love with Korea: Korean designers showcase their SS12 Collection during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

2011/09/16 Source

By Megan LaRussa

For the past four fashion seasons, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korean Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), the city of Daegu, and the Korea Research Institute for Fashion Industry have been promoting Korean designers to Americans.

Through the Concept Korea Fashion Collective the very best Korean designers are able to showcase their collections during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City to thousands of eager fashionistas from around the world.

Concept Korea S-S 2012 [Photo Slide] from CultureM on Vimeo.

Concept Korea in NYC 2011 from CultureM on Vimeo.

After an intense selection process based on design skills, concepts, and sustainable business models, five Korean designers were selected to present on Sept. 9 at the Grand Promenade in Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center. Those designers were Steve J & Yoni P, a London based duo; Lee Sang-bong, a Paris/Seoul based avant-garde design star; Juyoung of Resurrection, a dark and stormy menswear label; Son Jung-wan, a feminine and classic womenswear designer; and lastly Doho, a favorite womenswear designer.

These conceptually diverse but equally talented artists put on quite a presentation this past Friday night. The floor to ceiling windows of the hall allowed the soft glow of the evening light to cast a luminous spell on the five collections presented.

Walking through the curated space I was amazed by the plethora of well-dressed attendees. In fact, it is my experience that those attending the Concept Korea show were some of the best dressed I had seen at fashion week.

The buzz amidst the crowd seemed positive and receptive of the collections being showcased. Celebrities such as model and runway coach, Miss Jay and teen actress Vanessa Hudgens were amongst those taking in the night of Korean design. People were savoring cocktails and snapping endless photos of the designers and their creations, and even offbeat attendees, such as a woman and her Persian cat.

The first collection in Avery Fisher Hall was by Indie darlings, Steve Jung & Yoni Pai. The duo met 13 years ago and immediately knew they were meant to design together. After attending one of the best design schools, Central Saint Martins, the Korean team was ready to take on the fashion industry.

They are most impressive having collaborated with British fast fashion retailer, Topshop, and the high-end, cutting edge boutique 10 Corso Como Seoul. Steve J & Yani P's designs are by far the most Western of the Korean collections with their inspiration stemming from the gypset crowd (think boho meets jet-setter).

For their Spring/Summer 2012 collection they showcased a carefree collection consisting of sporty separates. The palette ranged from muted caramel accents in wooden flatforms, coral meets kelly green '70s floral print blazers, and denim tie-dye effects on flowing maxi skirts. Every model rocked a pair of plastic frame sunnies, creating a richer boho ambiance. Even the accessories, a great cross body tote and oversized, colorful clutches, popped and looked perfect for traveling.

Next on our Concept Korea itinerary was Lie Sang-bong. Probably the most internationally famous of the five designers, Lie has dressed fashion forward ladies like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Beyonce.

The Korean designer's aesthetic lies in a marriage of understated Asian design and inspiration, with French elegance. His Spring/Summer 2012 Collection would make any fashionista smile with the Technicolor kaleidoscope of the garments and accessories inspired by "dancheong", the traditional Korean decorative coloring found on wooden structures. His use of unconventional fabrics paired down in simple silhouettes reflects his artistry perfectly.

Moving right along to the menswear collection is the Resurrection by Juyoung. Both female and male musicians, like the Black Eye Peas, Lady Gaga, and Marilyn Manson, covet Resurrection garments and accessories. And it's no wonder with the rock 'n' roll meets historic influences Juyoung utilizes in her designs.

Like Lie, she was also inspired by Korean design this season. She drew from traditional colors found in paintings and garments-red, blue, and green. But what makes her collection stand out from other designers is her use of European Medieval Art, Christian art, and Punk Rock as inspiration.

The beautifully constructed and tailored pieces are juxtaposed with animal print pops and stiff fabrics like PVC and Neoprene. She even showcased a few pseudo-kilts, a signature of Juyoung's menswear designs.

After the darkness comes the light with Doho's Spring/Summer 2012 Collection. Doho began her design career in 1998 and has quickly become a South Korean favorite with her uniquely feminine garments.

Inspired by Monet's paintings, that so perfectly capture the changes of landscapes from morning to evening light, she utilized chandelier-like crystals on the ensembles to reference this change. The fabrics themselves were glistening with metallic threads and sheer overlays, giving way to a sea of light in Doho's spring collection.

And the final presentation by Son Jung Wan complemented the femininity of Doho's collection perfectly.

And feminine, classic pieces are what celebrities like Gossip Girl's Kelly Rutherford and True Blood's Carrie Preston really want. Sitting front row at Son Jung-wan's runway show, the day after the Concept Korea presentation, these actresses could not get enough of her tailored designs. In her Spring/Summer 2012 collection, the transformation of glass, and the material's unique reflection properties embody her pieces. Her garments are tailored to perfection with a hint of fluidity and irreverence for maintaining one particular shape. The hues ranged from silver-gray, cobalt blue, navy, and crème. Even the sculpted wedge sandals showcased movement.

From feminine frills, to Medieval accents, and everything in between these Korean designers have taken Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week by storm with their well-executed designs and conceptual ideas. And hopefully with time the rest of the world will fall in love with these five designers, just as I have this week.

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