A designer enters the arena, in the nude

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A designer enters the arena, in the nude

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“Four o’clock on Monday at Jamsil Gymnasium” on Feb. 6 sounded like an invitation to a judo tournament, but the anomaly in the name of high fashion was precisely the leitmotif of Christian Dior Couture Korea’s 2006 ready-to-wear collection. And it was enough to attract shock-hungry industry professionals, who’d seen the last Dior show in 2005, which no other luxury brands selling in Korea had since dared to try to one-up in scale and budget.
For the 2005 fall/winter collection, Dior’s Asia-Pacific “Premiere” show turned the W Seoul Hotel’s parking lot into a red-carpeted stadium, populated by local VIPs and the brand’s paid guests, including Ziyi Zhang and her entourage, other Chinese movie stars and 120-plus journalists flown in from around the region.
To jump-start the fashion calendar for 2006, Dior’s concept took on a different look. Local celebrities wrapped in luxurious fur coats strode purposefully on the barren field of the sports arena, looking strangely chic on the wintry afternoon. Beyond the impromptu entrance, covered entirely in black cloth emblazoned with the white Christian Dior logo, was another hollow hall reserved for a pre-show cocktail reception, above which flashed the campaign image of Christian Dior worldwide ― the Nude.
Looking up at the dome-like ceiling and the dark, metallic mood of the presentation, a handful of guests who had already seen the Paris show at Le Grand Palais earlier this month gave an understanding nod at Dior Korea’s attempt to recreate the original show here. If one didn’t count the fact that the historically and architecturally significant Le Grand Palais, originally built for the 1900 World’s Fair, recently reopened to the public after a 12-year renovation, and that the Paris spectacle included dozens of world-class models showcasing Dior’s full collection on a mile-long runway, the Korean show was a dwarf by comparison, with 10 local models showing what would work in Asia ― 33 outfits ― on a low, 20-meter-long wooden stage.
Along with drum-rolls appeared the gist of the collection: the “Nude” series ― black lace overlaying nude chiffon ― made famous last year by the British model Kate Moss and the latest pick for fashion mavens’ wardrobes. And of course, there were the “Gaucho” bags and matching shoes, with strappy platform sandals.
Inspired by rugged Argentinean cowboys, the hobo-style handbags made with washed leather in earthy hues, from ivory, burgundy, forest green to chocolate brown, were already on the arms of front-row guests.
This year, the world’s most coveted outfit, thanks to Kate Moss, is now available in a variety of styles and shapes, from a wearable opaque jacket and skirt ensemble to a pair of nude-colored skinny jeans glittering with black beads in lace pattern. There is also a scandalously diaphanous tunic that’s all about the ultimate sensuality now in vogue. For those who need a cover-up before arriving at parties, Dior has kindly offered matching trench and pea coats in the same pretty nude color.
Spectators at the show might have arrived in heavy winter clothes, but their hearts leaped to sunny seasons when gorgeous piles of ombre dresses in nude beige, delightfully dipped in lime green, fuscia pink and orange, appeared on the pale and lean bodies of the models. And white pant suits and taffeta gowns embroidered all over with peony blossoms were another evocation of springtime in Korea. Dior obviously had the Korean movie stars’ penchant for imported gowns to use in their red-carpet moments in mind. But the brand didn’t disappoint its “Diorissima” fans, who can tog themselves out from head to toe in the Dior logo by adding items from its casual denim collection.


Can Canadian jeans rip their way into Korea’s markets?

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Korean fashion arbiters are soon to decide whether Parasuco jeans will make it onto their wish lists. At least, the Canadian brand’s wish to make it to the hip side of Korean fashion is evident as its fashion show launch was at none other than Club NB in Apgujeong-dong in southern Seoul, and was attended by a handful of local celebrities and the press.
Using the theme of “Bonnie & Clyde” and accompanied by the rasping voice of Joni Mitchell as their soundtrack, male and female models swaggered down the club floor wearing what looked like last summer’s trend (read: the vintage cowboy look), instead of what is already in the possession of leading fashionistas (read: ’80s rock-chic in drainpipe jeans).
Yet the point of the collection was to join the country’s ever-growing premium jeans market, and that fashion message was delivered through ultra-fancy details on the assorted items designed for fashion-conscious men and women in their 20s and 30s.
Men’s sandblast low-rise jeans came in multiple style options: creased, washed or multi-pocketed; double-panels in denim or leather; airbrushed, hand-painted or embroidered with a dragon motif. Women’s vintage-wash boot-cut jeans were embellished with sparkling crystals that read “Rock Me Baby” on the backside; skimpy, sexy tank tops ― glittered, ripped and layered ―?above micro-mini denim skirts were designed to stand out in clubs and at parties.
Parasuco is virtually unknown outside Montreal, where it was created in 1988 by the Italian-born Salvatore Parasuco. With six stores in Canada and about a dozen worldwide distributors/representatives, including one in Osaka, Japan, Parasuco is on its way to becoming a fully recognizable brand in the global fashion industry.
Its recent introduction to Korea only strengthened the power of premium jeans, whose price limit in Korea is sky-high, as imported premium jeans cost more than double in Korea because of import tariffs. Also, young Koreans are not shy to shell out anywhere from $300 to $1,000 for a pair of jeans, as they feel safely fashionable in them. If Levi’s are the bottom end of the scale of price and luxury, Parasuco jeans, according to MJ Costume Co., Ltd., the Korean wholesale distributor, are the top end with a pair of jeans costing from 198,000 to 1,980,000 won ($206-$2,059).
Parasuco plans four stores in Korea, including a flagship store in Apgujeong-dong, two outlets in Seoul department stores and one store in Daegu.


by Ines Cho

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