중앙데일리

Korean fashion brand stuns Milan collections

Mar 27,2007
Models parade designs from the Derercuny runway show in Milan. [JoongAng Ilbo]
“Doing my best even with the smallest task. That’s what got me here.” That’s how Lee Jeong-min sees her successful creation of a world-class fashion brand. Except she does not equate “here” with success. For Ms. Lee, the creative director of Derercuny, Cheil Industries’ Italian label, here is just a milestone on the way to even bigger things.
This is the woman who won the hearts of Franca Sozzani, editor of Italian Vogue and Giusi Ferre, who is known as the “Italian Suzie Menkes.” (Menkes is the International Herald Tribune’s fashion editor.)
Sozzani was present at Derercuny’s first Milan show last month. “I would like to buy these clothes for myself,” he said. Ms. Fere sees Derecuny as part of the next generation that will succeed Dolce & Gabbana and Prada. The JoongAng Ilbo met Ms. Lee after her successful show at the Milan collections.

Lee Jeong-min took the Milan fashion shows by storm. [JoongAng Ilbo]
Q. Why is Derercuny not well known domestically?
A.It is a women’s fashion brand created as part of Cheil’s global project in 2003. We debuted in the fall of 2004 in Milan, not with a fashion show but as a presentation. Currently we are doing business with 55 buyers from 17 different countries including Neiman-Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom of the United States, Dover Street Market and Selfridges & Co. of Great Britain and Gio Moretti of Italy. The Italians think it’s their own brand.

How was the collection received?
Milan is for professionals. Here, success is measured by the number of buyers, and I’d say we are doing fine. The Bluebell group, known to be the market maker of the fashion industry, has expressed a desire to do business with us, and major Russian markets have also shown an interest. The top model Sasha Pivovarova has told us that our boots, which she wore on the runway, were the best item of all her shows in New York, London and Milan, and she wanted to keep them. The fact that “power woman” Sozzani wanted our collection for her personal wardrobe means the world to us. (laughs)

Putting on the fashion show must have been nerve wracking
In Italy, they say “sala vuota” when a brand’s first show is empty. I prayed that it would be “sala piena” (full room) instead. The show started 30 minutes before the famous Salvatore Ferragamo dinner party, and I was amazed to see that nobody left during our show. Sozzani even gave me words of encouragement. I’m still dazed with the reaction.

What is your secret for success?
I don’t have a formula for success that I can offer to other people. All I can do is my best. That’s what I did when I worked as the chief designer for Luisa Beccaria. When they told me to tidy up threads, I organized them by marking their characteristics on the box according to color and thickness. I even made suggestions to the company based on market research I did in my own time.

There are quite a few Koreans studying at Italian fashion schools
When I came to Milan in 1993, Korean students were very rare. High fashion can only be created in cities like New York, Paris or Milan. That’s because of how the industry works. Market structures are not likely to change soon, and Korea is very unlikely to penetrate the high fashion business.
In other words, we have to localize in order to create a world recognized brand. I hope the Korean students understand this system and do their best. Opportunities over European students will only be given to those who are determined and focused.


By Ghang Seung-min JoongAng Ilbo [estyle@joongang.co.kr]


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