It is a fact that Hwan Heo is a Korean designer and that his young brand is based in Seoul. But is that information relevant? Heo studied design in London. He presented his first five collections there, and the latest he debuted in Milan. Beyond that, though, you wonder about the relevance of Heohwan Simulation
's geographic origins because it's so difficult to locate anything specifically "Korean" about the label's clothes. They have an international passport, you might say. This season, for instance, Heo was riffing on the not-very-Korean themes of eighties metal bands and, er, Kant. As in Immanuel Kant, the 18th-century philosopher. The link between these two themes was both simple and hilarious: Metallica's second album is called Ride the Lightning
, while Kant located beauty in the sublime of nature, e.g., awe-inspiring spectacles such as lightning. Duh. That translated into an appealing lightning motif through much of the collection, and lush floral prints and one collaged from the covers of old hair-metal albums. Apropos of the latter, this collection had a nice sense of fun—for all the rather dour black jackets and coats, with their cocoonish, Claude Montana-ish cuts, there were also pieces like a white leather bomber with black lace and fringe, which seemed the very apotheosis of late eighties L.A. groupie-chic. But then there were also items with a really artisanal loveliness, like those in a graphic, black-and-white wool fabric that seemed to be unraveling. All in all, this was a collection that showed a lot of promise—Heo hasn't quite defined himself yet, but he's full of good ideas and capable of making some very desirable clothes.