Andre Kim’s lasting legacyKorea’s fashion pioneer Andre Kim passed away last week. Carried by a white funeral coach - the color he loved so much while he was alive- his body headed to its permanent resting place. Born as the son of a farmer in 1935 at the height of Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, Kim was a self-made man who later became a world-famous designer.
When he opened his fashion show in 1962- the first of its kind in Korea - and held another near the Eiffel Tower in Paris four years later, Korea’s fashion industry was still far behind those of other countries. The clothes worn in the country were still poor in style due to an economy devastated by the Korean War. It is difficult to imagine the ordeals he had to endure during his lifetime. But armed with the spirit of a master, artistic talents and an endless passion for fashion, he eventually paved a solid foundation for the Korean fashion industry.
In their respective fields, pioneers are lonely, and after achieving success, they tend to be forgetful of their social responsibilities. But he was committed to maintaining high-class ideals in terms of dignity and refinement, seekingㄷto embody these qualities in his creations. He frequently said, “I hate decadent, punk or ostentatious fashions.”
He didn’t even use ill-behaved models, no matter how great they may look and tried to introduce the beauty of Korea through his own creations by sticking to Korean fabrics. He also extended a helping hand to the underprivileged by staging fashion shows for charity and by donating money to countless relief organizations. He was also a model taxpayer and was recognized in this regard by receiving an award from Prime Minister several years ago.
Well aware of young models’ excessive efforts to lose weight despite the adverse side effects it might cause, he declared that he would not use super-thin models in his fashion shows. His close relationship with the foreign diplomatic corps in Korea, in particular, has been regarded as an outstanding example of civilian diplomacy.
Now we wonder who will take the place of Kim as the vacuum left by him appears so big. At the moment, it seems urgent to find a successor to the “Andre Kim” national brand, so we expect the fashion industry to lead the effort to maintain his legacy. Even well into his 70s, he said, “The fairytale-like world and the dreams and fantasies of my childhood still remain intact.” Perhaps he has gone now to the world he talked about when he was alive. We express our heart-felt admiration and appreciation for his dignified life and graceful works of art. Again, we express our deep condolences for his departure from us.