Young Korean designers succeed overseas

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Young Korean designers succeed overseas


Here’s a tidbit of information for devoted Korean fans of Desperate Housewives. The metallic aqua shimmer dress that Eva Longoria raved about at the Teen Choice Awards was made by a Korean designer.
Her name is Doo Ri Chung, a 33-year-old who launched her own label in the United States in 2001.
“Well, it wasn’t that I was closely acquainted with Eva,” the designer said in an interview in Seoul last week. “Her stylist called me.”
“Eva has a petite figure - very petite,” she said. “The dress had to be fixed everywhere so that it would fit her well. Maybe that’s why she liked my dress.”
Ms. Chung is regarded as one of Korea’s promising young designers abroad. She recently won recognition from the Samsung Fashion & Design Fund, which supports young up-and-coming Korean designers. The other two chosen winners are Richard Chai and Koeun Park.
In 1995, Ms. Chung won the Parson’s Designer of the Year award. After that, she found herself working at Donna Karan and Calvin Klein.
“The award gave me the chance to work for those international brands,” she said. “But I realized I didn’t want to use all my energy working for a designer brand that seemed like a factory.”
Later she worked with Geoffrey Beene for six years. The experience taught her how to turn creative ideas into fine results. Known for creating soft, sultry designs, Ms. Chung refused to limit her design concepts.
“Many people ask what my style is, but I am still learning,” she said. “I don’t want to use colorations that only impact Koreans. I want to become a designer who can represent Korea.”
Richard Chai, 32, is a former creative director at TSE, who started his own label last year. Also a Parson’s School of Design graduate, he worked at Lanvin, Armani Exchange and Donna Karan. He was only 25 when Marc Jacobs chose him to work with him as a design director in New York.
Mr. Chai says it was a strange coincidence how he fell in love with fashion designing.
“I walked inside a classroom not knowing that it was a fashion class,” he said. “I saw beautiful clothes, models and heard ecstatic music. My heart thumped wildly.”
For Koeun Park, fashion designing was her expression against oppression. Unlike the other two who were raised abroad, Ms. Park was born and raised in Seoul.
“When I graduated from college in Korea, I felt I lacked something,” the 32-year-old said. “I wanted to make real haute couture clothing, so I went to France.”
She studied at the Chambre Syndicate de la Couture Parisienne and then interned at Chanel and Nina Ricci. This year, she launched her own label called, “Forme 3’3204322896.”
Ms. Park described her design themes as “a kind of anger.”
“It’s the dissatisfaction that a hired designer feels when she is not free to make her own designs,” she said. “I want to concentrate on each piece of clothing rather than being tied up working for a fashion show.”
“That’s what true haute couture is all about,” she said.

by Jo Do-yeon
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