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Paris Fashion Week Includes Korean Designers
October 21, 2004
Two Korean designers, Lie Sang-bong and Hong En-zu, presented their designs on the last day of the Paris ready-to-wear fashion week on October 11 after countless air kisses among the fashionistas and "oohs" and "aahs" for designs by the most creative minds in the industry. While names like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Christian Dior gobbled up their usual share of the spotlight during the eight-day fashion kaleidoscope, Lie and Hong were relative newcomers at this Parisian fashion show.
At the Carrousel de Louvre, the main venue of the Paris pret-a-porter where about half of the shows were held, Lie Sang-bong seemed relaxed for a relative newcomer as he checked out the lights and music before the rehearsal. With his daughter Nana, formerly a fashion editor at Vogue Girl Korea, at his side, Lie went over the lights to recreate the sunrise and sunset he saw during a trip to Africa, an idea that struck him right after the last season's show. "This is my sixth show in Paris and now I am starting to feel more stable here. At first I tried to adjust myself to Paris but now I am more about representing my sensitivity," said Lie, who is known for a unique style that is very much his own.
Although Lie confessed he feels rather impatient to get the same recognition in Paris as he does in Seoul, he has garnered much controversy, which is good for a newcomer, with his shaman-themed show last year. "I must have shocked them with that show," he laughed adding that after that "Oriental" work and then last season's gothic, street wear-inspired show, "which was my interpretation of Paris," he is ready to bring out his own color. "I usually come up with ideas for the next show as the show wraps up. And this time the trip to Africa, which goes back to 15 years ago, was what triggered my vision," said Lie. The runway for this season's show is already turned into a dusty desert with its earth and rock sprinkled with dry shrubs and during the rehearsal, models are watching their steps to walk along the path rather than to walk straight into the camera.
Thanks to the convenient location -- Japanese designer Yuki Torii just finished his show-- the over 200 seats filled quickly. As the throbbing rhythm from the amplifier began building up, the "Rhythm and Africa" kicked off. With the thumping African music, Lie sent out models in bold, creative works expertly combining tradition and contemporariness. In sync with the African theme, colors were used daringly while the fabric was natural, mostly cotton and silk, and hand-dyed.
Starting with white and black, the volume of skirts and sleeves were exaggerated, jodhpurs were hung low. Strings of leather were used as a bra or a bandeau while huge ethnic chokers covered the decolletage revealed by tightly tailored jackets. Some featured matching bags, some of which were even worn as a necklace.
Purple, turquoise, yellow and pink were used profusely. Prints and patterns were abounding from miniscule polka dots and multi-colored plaids to flower prints in yellow, green and red.
Trenches, the ultimate French fashion statement, were given a shot of Oriental aesthetic as they were trimmed with multihued plaids. Poncho like dresses had different color stripes on each sleeve while acrylic circles dangled in the front, which Lie said "are symbols of hope that I felt in the songs and dances of Africans." The vivid colors of acryl discs were structured into a dress that brought the lively show to a picturesque finale.
Only two hours after Lie's show was that of Enzuvan, the designer collection of Esmod Paris educated Hong Eun-ju, at the Salle Wagram, another favored venue among the designers. After five years of working at Christian Dior's children's wear division, under her belt, Hong has been heralded as one of the most likely to make herself known in Paris. "This is only the fifth collection I have held in Paris and there still are difficulties: the difference in the way of working and thinking, and not to mention the finances especially when the euro is getting stronger and stronger," said Hong right after finishing an interview with an Italian fashion cable TV station.
But her firm belief that continuity matters is what propels her through whatever obstacles in holding fashion shows in Paris. "It surely will take time to be accepted and to be recognized and for now to let the press and buyers here know what kind of a designer I am, what color I have is the first thing to do," she said.
Colors surely are in her mind as Hong has decidedly added a palette of colors to her usually somber creations. "I was going through a book and came across a picture of a wedding from the 1890s when things were starting to become modernized. The colorful, decorative festivity with lots of flowers inspired me to create a collection of bright, summery feelings with a touch of something Korean," she explained about her show, dubbed "La fete," a feast in French.
The clothes were mainly cut and tailored out of washable cotton and comfortable jersey bringing a practical edge to her staple avant-garde looks. Colors such as dusty pink, toned-down purple and turquoise were used sparingly combined with the radiating make-up, done by Damien Dufresne and his team, and ornaments in the hair of the models lifted the collection to its festive mood of a countryside wedding.
Subtle wrinkles on the drawstring pants and tattered seams of a jacket offered worn-out, comfortable feeling while flower appliques and free-flowing braids added something of an extra. A black short top was faintly reminiscent of jeogori, or the bolero-like jacket part of Korean traditional costume and was matched with metallic shorts. An olive green version was worn with purple baggy pants while a more ethnic touch was added to the mandarin collared jackets for both men and women. Some baggy pants had a closure that clearly was inspired by that of a man's pants also from Korean traditional costume, making the show surely "about mixing modernity and ethnicity," which Hong believes can be one of her strong assets.