I hope everyone is enjoying Good Friday, either at home or doing something interesting, unlike me I am indoors doing some research and writing as always. The weather here is appalling constant rain and no sunshine but that is not going to stop me from bringing you the best from Seoul Fashion Week
Seoul Fashion Week was very quiet this season as a few brands and designers from London and Paris have left making the fashion industry energy very low even the street style, was not packed as it normally is, in the past few fashion week seasons, however, the snow and rain is not helping either.
The Generation Next had an amazing showcase for its fresh new talent, new names jumped at the opportunity to put on a free show, staged in a glass box beneath a suspended walkway. It is a smart move on Seoul Fashion Week’s part to accommodate them. If the city is to become a true incubator, its Fashion Week must find, cultivate, and support new talent, especially as the first wave of rising Koreans heads overseas.
Here are five labels from Generation Next that could represent the next phase of Seoul fashion.
Bona Kim and Jaehyuk Lim launched BESFXXK last year, after graduating from the London College of Fashion and Royal College of Art, respectively. Their brand name is a play on the words bespoke and fucked up, pronounced bes-fuck, and defines their ethos: to take classic tailored garments and distort them. “We’ve never done particular concepts,” Lim explained. “We always look at the clothes themselves—that’s our priority.” It is also the reason, he says, why the models wore dyed and graphic patterned masks to completely obscure their faces.
This season, they chose to experiment with track suits, trench coats, and starched shirts, splicing them together—a bit of athletic stretch fabric tacked onto the back of a trench, for instance. Striped shirts with multiple neck openings (one gaping at the chest) allowed each to be worn different ways. “Depending on where you put your head, it changes the silhouette and gives you more options to play with,” Lim said. Indeed, the convertible nature of the garments meant plentiful styling possibilities, like a denim jacket with striped panels blooming from the front that could be detached by buttons. “If you think something is too much, you can trim it back and make it more structural,” Lim added, pointing to the detachable sleeves and straps on nearly every piece.
Hyemee Lee’s Eenk (a reference to ink, using the double e’s in her name) is known for its leather handbags and other accessories, beloved by Korean editors. This season, she staged her first runway show to better showcase her overtly feminine, vintage-inspired clothes, of a kind with what you might find at Maryam Nassir Zadeh. Currently, Lee is in the middle of the ambitious Letter Project she began in 2013. Each collection is themed around a letter of the alphabet, beginning with B for Beanie, and will continue until she ends with A for Archive to complete the set. This season was K for Knits, and so Lee began by designing a base collection of plush knits in sugar pink, pale lavender, and other pretty hues. “I was going to wait until A to do a show, but the opportunity came up, so I thought why not give it a try?” she said.
Inspired by the furniture designer Muller Van Severen, Lee kept the palette strong and the shapes more organic. Little collared sweater dresses and oversize cashmere vests conveyed “a European grandma vibe,” as did a soft brown calf-length faux fur coat and periwinkle houndstooth suit. “I like classics from long ago, but with a little on-trend twist,” she said. These did the trick, and it was nice to see more desirable, contemporary clothes for women come to the fore.
Minju Kim’s three-year-old label made a strong Seoul Fashion Week debut—the designer’s first-ever runway show—with a collection inspired by the Galaxy Express 999 anime. It was whimsical yet bold, rather than delicate; shiny gold and green jacquards and laser-cut PVC ornaments featured heavily throughout the lineup. “I wanted to keep the mood fun and happy,” Kim said backstage.
Her eclectic use of graphic print and colour on traditionally feminine silhouettes is a key part of her work, in a similar vein to a Miu Miu or Simone Rocha. Important, however, she does put her own twist on it—her voice comes through, and it has been a pleasure to watch it develop each season.
Tell the Truth
A lack of designed, feminine clothes on the Seoul mainstage may soon be corrected, not just by Eenk and Minju Kim, but by Sung-eun Kim of Tell the Truth, which held its first show last week after seven seasons. “I started the brand to make pieces one can wear for a long time,” Kim says. “In a sense, the line is devoted to basics.” For Fall 2018, Kim drew from a ’90s video interview of Winona Ryder at the height of her cool in a dark suit coat and buttoned-up shirt, then mixed in a bit of the Royal Tenenbaums to create a “retro, vintage” mood.
Yes, there were the requisite Margot Tenenbaum furs in deep green, black, and oatmeal, as well as a fun copper teddy bear number. A steel blue version was paired with a sky blue silk pleated dress, worn over a beige turtleneck and matching floor-length slacks for a clean look. Tailored top coats and high turtlenecks were a no-brainer, as was the overall effect—sophisticated and easy to wear.