Stylist to the stars helps clients make their fashion picksFor men ― or at least for men of average size and physique who don’t exercise three hours a day ― wearing tight clothing is seen as only slightly less humiliating than wearing no clothing at all. Bad news for them: The “slim look” in men’s fashion is tearing its way across the country.
Though the style is being popularized by a legion of male entertainers in Korea who have donned the “slim” look, the decision-maker in their choice of clothing is often a woman, fashion stylist Nam Ju-hee.
Ms. Nam, 28, originally went to college to study graphic design. She was suspended after she started skipping classes to work in the real world of men’s fashion, however, and in the eight years since, she has worked as a stylist.
Word spread about her work when the model and actor Gang Dong-won became an instant hit with his slim look.
“To tell you the truth, Gang Dong-won is a fan of the slim look,” she said. “Years before Dior Homme [a male version of Christian Dior] was launched in Korea, he went all the way to Japan to shop for clothes in the style.”
But as a stylist in the world of entertainment, you can’t imitate other people’s fashion but have to be able to set trends on your own.
“Often times, entertainers are blocked from the outside world,” Ms. Nam says. “They don’t tend to consider the response of others. Instead they want to dress in the brands or style of clothes they prefer. You have to be able to convince them [to try a new look].”
So how did she come to promote the “slim look?” The answer, simply by following a global fashion trend.
“I get inspiration from fashion magazines,” she said. “There was a point when the slim style was in. It fit my vision, because a lot of the entertainers I was styling for had the body type of being thin with long arms.”
Actors such as Lee Dong-wook and Lee Min-ki are good examples. Both are skinny and have longer arms than is ordinary for males, she explained, so if they wear ordinary clothing, they look as if they are playing dress-up in their father’s clothes.
Slim-fit clothing was a way to make them appear more natural, Ms. Nam said.
Nowadays, Ms. Nam is the stylist for up to 10 Korean entertainers, including two members of the boy-band SG Wannabe, Seo Ji-won and Kim Ju-hyuk. Coincidentally, most are male. Perhaps because of that, the most memorable experience she has had so far as a stylist was working for Han Eun-jeong, a female actress who starred in the hit soap opera “Full House” wearing a “sexy underwear look.”
“She looks bold, but is a very conservative lady,” Ms. Nam said. “She doesn’t like to expose her skin. But we needed some way to make her stand out if she had to compete with Song Hye-gyo [the “cutesy” female lead in the drama]. Our choice was to show off Ms. Han’s perfect bodyline.”
In the drama, Ms. Han appeared in a short top, revealing a lacy bra and exposing her waist. The look turned heads across the country.
But when it comes to changing images, there is no better example of Ms. Nam’s talents than SG Wannabe. She changed their dress code to formal wear, and swish black suits have now become the group’s trademark.
Ms. Nam’s career, however, has been far from smooth. Pictures of entertainers dressed by her appearing at major festivals and award ceremonies have featured in the “worst dressed” categories of fashion magazines. She says she expects things to get even bumpier.
In July, the Grand Bell Prize, one of the biggest film events in Korea, will be held at COEX, southern Seoul. Hundreds of Korean photographers swarm to the event to shoot entertainers walking on the red carpet ― some of whom will be Ms. Nam’s entertainers.
“Once the rumor spreads that an entertainer is a bad dresser, people immediately blame it on their stylist,” she said.
by Jo Do-yeon