Concept Korea Fashion Week 2018 Review

South Korea is clearly having a moment on the world stage, and so too K-Fashion. “There are so many unique new young designers and artists in Seoul, and many of these great young designers are very fashion forward, unique and inspiring,” said Youn Hee Park, one of the designers featured at Concept Korea’s NYFW show this season.

Park, like her home country, has a busy schedule in the next few weeks. After New York Fashion Week, she plans to go to Paris Fashion Week and, of course, Seoul Fashion Week. Always -- Seoul.

There is South Korean music and food, infusing at present Western pop culture. And the precarious nuclear brinkmanship between Trump and the two Koreas notwithstanding, there are the Olympics, which loomed large during New York Fashion Week.

Then there was Concept Korea's F/W 2018 show. The Fall/Winter 2018 collection at Spring Studios, Gallery 1, drew attention to the growing global cultural influence of The Land of the Morning Calm. Concept Korea represents South Korea’s most prominent fashion design talents, the purpose was to expose the American market to the top designers, and this season they did not disappoint. Haute couture and sustainability are the leading aesthetic values represented in these collections, virtues that are becoming associated as the hallmarks of South Korean fashion. Over seventeen seasons at New York fashion week, Concept Korea has stuck to those two principles as their constant, their North Star.

Two prominent South Korean collections were presented at Fashion Week this time around. Both are very different, one political, making universal-moral statements, the other more into the aesthetics of geometry and design, the general fabulosity of things. First, the political—Chung Chung Lee's LIE Fall 2018 collection was inspired by that iconic image of a wary polar bear stranded on a shrinking iceberg. How can that be translated into dresses? How does one express the collapsing unity between Man and Nature in clothing? The subject matter was highly political and, to be sure, consonant with Concept Korea’s long-term emphasis on sustainability, which dates back farther than this particular show. “GLOBAL WARMING; It’s not justICE” was the title of Chung Chung Lee’s presentation on February 9th.

He majored in fashion design at Central Saint Martins in London. Chung began in menswear—of all places —at Savile Row under legendary designer Oswald Boateng, mastering tailoring skills, before migrating, organically, to haute couture.

His F/W 18 collection aims to portray an important message “it’s not just ice” that is a result of global warming. This season Chung strived to highlight the fraught relationship between Nature and Man in muted arctic colors, interrupted briefly by a mimicking of the Northern Lights. There is a good amount of fur trimming, houndstooth wool, and wintery tundra boots. “My inspiration for Fall/Winter 2018 derived from images of crystal glaciers, the clearest of blue skies from the Arctic, and the Northern Lights,” he told Forbes. “I wanted to portray these images through this collection, and remind us to stop and appreciate the beauty of this world we live in. I was very drawn to the styling, shapes, layers, and textures of the Inuit Tribe in this region and wanted to incorporate them with modern trends.”

At the other end of the spectrum was the second line—GREEDILOUS, presented by designer Youn Hee Park. Park is less political than Chung, more focused on accomplishing aesthetic ends. "I am a fashion designer who is based in fine arts,” she told Forbes. “My main aesthetic for Greedilous is having geometric patterns that represents decalcomania,” a decorative technique, used in her line, by which engravings and prints are transferred to glass, porcelain, or other materials.

GREEDILOUS is a term coined by the designer combining greed and fabulous. GREEDILOUS was influenced by a reinterpretation of Marie Antoinette, and the extreme glamour of Versailles, but also a wink and a nod at the present age. There are certainly elements of that excess—high collars, jewel tones—as well as playful touches of streetwear (trucker caps). There is also the trademark GREEDILOUS signature “futuristic modernity” as well as striking femininity with a masculine undertone. These things we come to expect.

Fashionistas Shaun Ross, Jordun Love, June Ambrose, Claire Sulmers, Simon Collins, and Miss Jay Alexander attended to actual show on Spring Street. Concept Korea’s lavish after-party, thrown in the penthouse of Hotel Americano later in the evening, was organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea. Attendees celebrating late into the night included: Sean Frazier, LaShauna ColineDarryl Dwayne, HaleLee Seoyeon, Shené V. Owens and V. Vernard.

Beyoncé's stylist Ty Young, a collaborator in the runway show, was as you can imagine, one of the biggest hits of the party.

Photo Credit: cover photo via Kris Lloyd Fashion, LIE + Greedilous show photos via Fashion 360 Mag.