Spring, Summer Fashion Forecast
The Korean fashion industry wrapped up its spring and summer 2008 collections last week, although with seemingly less buzz and excitement than before.
From late October to November, a flurry of fashion shows hit Korea. The Seoul Collection, Seoul Fashion Artists Association (SFAA) and Pret-a-Porter Busan (PAP Busan), not to mention individual designers and high-profile brands, have given their fashion forecasts for next season.
Overall, the main look on Korea's runways was still very romantic, with lots of ruffles, muted tones and soft silhouettes. The color palette featured a lot of blacks, whites and grays, but bursts of neon color added some spice. Minimalist looks, tribal chic and artistic outfits were also spotted.
Controversy marred the start of the fashion season, as SFAA members decided to split from the Seoul government-sponsored Seoul Collection. Both Seoul Collection and SFAA Collection drew noticeably thinner crowds respectively, as compared to previous years.
The Seoul Collection, held between Oct. 19-26, featured 35 designers including Lee Young-hee, Imseonoc, Choi Bum-suk and Andy & Debb, and members of the New Wave Seoul and Korea Fashion Designers Association.
Andy & Debb showed off clean, simple lines, and muted tones of sunflower yellow, cool gray and taupe in their collection. Choi Bum-suk also attracted attention for his softly chic and luxurious men's wear collection.
On the other hand, SFAA held its series of fashion shows in a tent outside the National Theater of Korea last Nov. 20-22, which unfortunately marked the onset of a cold spell. People who braved the cold weather, shivered while watching the shows of 16 designers including Jinteok, Rubina, Oh Eun-hwan, Bakangchi, Chang Kwang-hyo and Sul Yun-hyoung.
The themes for SFAA's spring and summer collection were ``romantic'' and ``nature,'' pastel colors and loose silhouettes with natural, eco-friendly fabrics. Grays, blacks and whitesgave a darker edge to the normally light color palette for spring.
Jinteok's collection never fails to impress. On a white floored catwalk, models walked out wearing minimalist baby doll dresses with puffed sleeves, pared-down balloon skirts and A-line shapes. Cheerful colors such as orange, red, yellow, pink and blue popped up on sporty striped shirts and ruffled tops. The designer used silk chiffon, taffeta, shantung silk, tulle and jersey fabrics for her collection.
Rubina brought a taste of African safari to the runways. She said she was inspired by travels to Africa, and aimed to create a romantic, feminine yet seductive mood for her collection. It featured one-piece dresses, oversized trench coats, loose blazers and a cocoon-style dress. She also used ethnic elements such as African-inspired beading, as well as animal prints for her collection.
Bakangchi's ``vivi lady'' is the epitome of urban chic, as models walked down with bat wing-sleeved tops and puffed mini-pants. Lee Kyu-rye's models wore pretty dresses accented with ruffles, one of the key trends for next season.
For the men's wear collections, Chang Kwang-hyo brought out sharp and slim suits in beige and black, while Kim Gyu-sik and Lee Ju-young opted for dark, futuristic looks.
Lee's collection for Resurrection featured splashes of neon with metallic colors for a stylish rocker look for men. Models, including boy band SS501 member Kim Hyun-joong, strutted down the runway wearing black leather suits, metallic gold vests, cobalt blue tops and a lot of attitude. Kim Gyu-sik introduced a futuristic look for his men's wear collection which featured edgy motorcycle jackets.
Busan is trying to rival Seoul as the fashion capital of Korea. Pret-a-Porter Busan (PAP Busan), the last major fashion event of the season, distinguished itself from Seoul's fashion events by inviting foreign designers. In past years, designers such as Richard Chai, Doori Chung, Maria Cornejo and Michiko Koshino have shown their collections in Busan.
This year, France's Christophe Guillarme, Japan's Minoru Adachi, China's Frankie Xie and Paris-based Korean designer Jaison added foreign flair to Busan's runways. Styles ranged from romantic dresses and sexy prints to dark, sophisticated looks.
Guillarme brought his ultra-sophisticated, sexy designs inspired by mythical mermaids. He showed off different prints, such as silk burnt-out mix with smoky lace, python, aquatic flora and leopard, on slinky gowns and cut out dresses. He used kimono sleeves on some dresses, and experimented with rich colors such as turquoise blue, coral pink, antique gold, deep purple and lavender.
Adachi's Mode Acote collection featured feminine looks with a touch of masculine appeal. He used a mix of synthetic and natural fabrics for his collection. Soft ruffles were featured on pale tops and airy dresses, while eyelets were used to accent dresses.
Xie, who showed his collection at the Paris Fashion Week, designed outfits with flight attendants in mind. Stripes, short pants and knitted socks are reminiscent of American girls in the 1950's, while one-piece dresses over striped mini knitted sweaters recall the hip British style of the 1960's.
Jaison, originally from Daegu and now based in Paris, showed off stunning evening gowns with rich detail and color. His design concept was based on a ``Night at Versailles,'' recalling the rich extravagance of the French palace.
Busan-based designers Seo Soon-nam and Lee Young-hee (not to be confused with the hanbok designer Lee Young-hee) gave a hint of what the port city's emerging fashion style would be.
Seo described her collection as ``elegant-retro,'' as she found inspiration from the feminine styles of the 1940's and 1960's. She used gray as her main palette, and accented it with rich colors including brown, dark blue, dark green, red, yellow and violet.
Lee said she created modern, sporty looks based on simple but feminine shapes. This was seen in the black and white gingham, as well as colorful geometric prints found on flirty dresses.
PAP Busan ended with a show by Seoul-based designer Park Choon-moo, who used a lot of black, white, silver and red in her collection. Inspired by the sun and moon, Park's collection featured bold circles on a gauzy sweater and cocoon-style dresses.
While the fashion season may have started off on the wrong foot, Korea's designers have shown that their creative style and unique vision for spring and summer fashion still prevail.