Retro-hip fashion is backPredicting new trends is the toughest and riskiest task that fashion designers face.
To foretell the future they analyze past trends and observe the world around them.
Designers study books to learn about society’s previous passions, read magazines to catch the latest fads, and travel in ever-widening social circles to get a grasp of the social psyche at any given moment.
Facing an amorphous, uncertain future, they design from the heart. Whether their clients will like their creations remains a question to the very day their fashions are modeled on the runway.
Strangely, certain directions emerge with each season’s collection. Here are some styling and make-up trends that appeared at this year’s Seoul Collection and will likely determine what you’ll wear next fall and winter:
On the runways, the models’ hair was teased, frizzed, puffed or spiked in all directions, looking like the manes of lions.
While some hair looked damaged, not to mention brassy, the overall effect was a super-sexy diva look. Think of Diana Ross and you’ve got the idea.
Oh Min, the show’s chief hair and make-up artist, brought 35 people from his Oh Min Beauty Plan salon to make up the models’ eyes.
This year, heavy shadows ― in brown, orange, purple and black ― were on eyelids everywhere.
Blushes are big. Very noticeable cheek colors ― bubblegum pink, Chinese red and virginal blush ― were giving the models a high definition and a healthy glow.
For lips, you can go two ways, either naturally glossy or Chinese red, matte.
Leg warmers aren’t just for dowdy sales girls in the streets!
If the designers at the Seoul Collection are right, you’ll be wearing them in ribbed knits, wool or rabbit furs over your high heels and ankle boots ―for both warmth and style.
Mobile phones, PDAs, lipstick and cash can be easily tucked inside big pockets, belt bags and large carry-all bags. Pockets with flaps also appear on coat fronts, side and back, on front, back and side of the pants.
The new, functional chic look: rib knits at the wrist snugly close the sleeves; waist and hemlines can be zipped together or apart.
Shorter the better
Micro miniskirts will be the rage. New styles will be tight and hip-hugging, or full with frills and gathers. Skirts will be matched with sexy bustiers, short feminine jackets or sportsy blousons.
Shoes? Take a wild stride in classic alligator pumps, high-heeled boots or spiky, strappy sandals.
Play tennis or jog?
Sports elements pop up on elegant dresses and formal suits.
Draw strings borrowed from track suits and striped bands can not only pull up and down hemlines and sleeves but also add trendy comfort. Imagine the Yohji Yamamoto’s Addidas look: sneakers will be everywhere.
[TALENT TO WATCH] Hong designing for a global audience
“Korea has found one talent today,” says Jin Tae-ok, one of Korea’s leading designers, as women modeling Hong Eun-jeong’s creations parade down the runway at the COEX Convention Center on the second day of the Seoul Collection.
“It’s not just the details. It’s her ability to put together a praiseworthy collection,” says Ms. Jin, who first noticed Ms. Hong’s talents at the JungAng Design Contest two years ago.
Led by glossy-faced models wearing black from head to toe, the show began like a starkly futuristic collection. But it quickly became evident that Ms. Hong’s collection is the work of someone much more skilled than an avant-garde wanna-be.
The intricate layering, cutting and stitching of men’s tailored jackets are the result of years of research. The final product is astounding and alluring ― down to the weirdly familiar black shoes.
It takes a few minutes to recognize that the footwear are, in fact, traditional Korean rubber shoes known as gomusin. They’re spray-painted black and tied with black leather laces. A London buyer liked Ms. Hong’s shoes so much that she bought 10 pairs, at 140 pounds each (275,500 won or $220).
Later, the 28-year-old Ms. Hong attributed her show’s success to one of her professors at Central St. Martin’s College, part of the London Institute, where she received a master’s degree in design last year.
“Each time I made something, my professor Louise Wilson would tell me that it looked too Asian and that I should strive to make clothes that can work not only in Korea but anywhere in the world,” she says.
Ms. Hong is inspired by Martin Margiela, who often makes women’s clothes several sizes too large. She also finds men’s tailored jackets fascinating. Ms. Hong wants to create clothing that is perfectly constructed yet flattering to a women’s body.
She uses fine leather strings to “refit” natural curves, emphasizing tailoring and femininity. To ensure that her all-black designs are interesting, she searches out unusual materials. She credits her resourcefulness to her parents, who are engaged in the textile business in Korea.
What worries Ms. Hong now is the next season. She wants to move away from black and try using washed or painted leather in light colors. And sometime later this year the south of Seoul, she plans to open a boutique featuring her own designs. “Because a brand’s name is so important, I’m taking time to think about it. But for sure, it won’t be just my name,” she says.
[INTERVIEW]Jin Te-ok’s modern, minimalist flair
For the past 38 years, Jin Tae-ok has had one goal ― to create clothes with their own esprit.
“Without esprit or eol in Korean, clothes are nothing but a few hours of labor and essentially worthless. But if history, both personal and cultural, can be traced and felt in the clothes, then they’re works of art which are priceless,” says Ms. Jin, who has led and inspired the Korean fashion industry since opening her shop in Myeongdong in 1968.
While she travels extensively, she feels bound to her Korean roots. “Some elements in my creations are inevitably Korean, yet people say my clothes are minimal and modern. When we look closely at Korean traditional art and antiquity, it’s ultimately minimal,” Ms. Jin says.
Her accomplishments include pioneering paths for the Korean fashion industry and promoting fashion through Korea’s first fashion association, the Seoul Fashion Artists Association Collection, which began its shows in 1990.
When she redesigned classic men’s dress shirts for her women’s line in the early 1970s, the shirt became an instant best seller in Korea. Then, through her brand, Jinteok, she continued to charge Korean fashion with her revolutionary concepts.
Ms. Jin’s belief in combining art and fashion has deeply inspired Korean fashion students. Her true talent was demonstrated with sold-out shows in Paris and New York during her heyday between 1978 and 1995.
She is one of a few Korean designers whose works were shown on the Paris runways in the early 1980s.
Her simple, yet modern interpretations of Korean motifs had won admiration from critics and buyers in Paris and New York City.
In 1995, her limited-edition embroidered silk dress, inspired by Korean royal gowns, was sold for $12,000 on Bergdorf Goodman’s exclusive couture floor ― next to works by Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake and Commes des Garcon. The gown was later featured in “The Fashion Book,” published by Phaidon Press.
Without outside investment and a larger base of support in Paris and New York, Ms. Jin found it difficult to survive outside Korea. She closed her overseas operations in 1997, as have several other Korean designers.
Despite Ms. Jin’s difficulty abroad, she’s revered by members of Korea’s fashion industry and considered the country’s most daring designer to have ventured overseas.
Now, a new generation of Korean designers has entered the overseas fashion capitals. Ms. Jin worries about their future. “Just because an item has a lot of Korean elements doesn’t mean it will win international recognition,” she says. “To earn that recognition, young designers should first broaden their experience to know more and better.”
For young talent to be cultivated, Ms. Jin says that Korea’s corporate culture needs to be changed. “In order for Korea’s cultural industries to grow, company’s must donate money and sponsor programs that will ultimately be mutually beneficial,” she says. “Corporate sponsorship must become an integral part of society.”
by Ines Cho