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July 30 2014

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At Seoul Fashion Week, Proposing A Protection Racket

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Staged on the site of the 1988 Olympic Games, Seoul fashion week wrapped Saturday after blazing through over 30 runway shows in four days, a schedule executed as precisely as the city’s modern infrastructure. Building upon increased interest following the Concept Korea presentation during New York fashion week, local designers proved they deserve special attention for Fall with an impressively broad sampling of themes—a range expected in Paris or Milan but sometimes lacking further afield.

Lie Sang Bong, South Korea’s most venerable talent, encapsulated this by combining Seoul’s dual love of dark futurism and exuberant humor with a pebbled stone motif embroidered upon sheer dresses and wildly shaggy tie-dyed fur. Padded protection proved essential—nearly every show featured a spin on the puffer jacket. The duo behind J Koo, Jinwoo Choi and Yeonjoo Koo (both graduates of Central Saint Martins), offered their take on the trend with a quilted skirtsuit befitting their standout debut of tailored streetwear (pictured). And beloved design partners Steve J and Yoni P also went edgy with cushioned patent leather sweatshirts in homage to the spacesuits that inspired their collection.

But it wasn’t all padded parkas. The week concluded with several lines poised for wider recognition. Husband-and-wife team Andy & Debb made the leap via hourglass wool dresses and beautifully distressed brocade pantsuits, while Kaal E. Suktae, already stocked by New York’s Seven boutique, pushed into the future with slick holographic color blocking. Currently based in Paris, Vassilly designer Jaehwan Lee brought a dash of European classicism back home, interpreting Rococo art as appliqué crests and exploded scarf prints. Even Seoul’s typically gothic designers like Park Choon Moo embraced a softer silhouette, choosing languid pajamas instead of last season’s aggressive noir fetishism.

Photo: Courtesy of J Koo

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