While everyone I know is running their mouth off, emptying their wallets for and freaking out over the Topshop X Meadham Kirchhoff collection, I wanted to take time out to discuss the underrated nature of Korean fashion designers. The images I wanted to show you are the work of Minju Kim, a Korean born fashion designer whose craft largely revolves around her personal inspirations. Her designs first came to my attention when perusing Style Bubble and seeing her collaboration with H & M, which was interestingly also made available through Opening Ceremony. Her first collection "Dear My Friend" was inspired by graphically violent manga by Junji Ito and her own exploration of drawing. I found it interesting that Minju Kim said 'all she wanted to do was draw', and that fashion designing allowed her to do that, but her genuine obsession to achieve perfection in every piece of clothing, shoe or accessory she made is a testament to her devotion to textiles.
What I was most impressed with was the attention to detail- the androgynous silhouettes created by large, furry-sleeved coats, the collars in brilliant bright leather and the fiddly components of the wedges adorned in small spikes and leather shapes and tassels. Koren fashion design is blossoming in a way that parallels and yet is so different to Japanese designers- although I don't think I have a balanced overview of what each region has to offer, partially due to limited exposure and difficulty extracting information from Japanese and Korean websites, I am continually excited knowing that there are always more up and coming designers to uncover. I think what we're beginning to see is the first crest of a wave of Korean-born designers emerging from European schools of design that will see some sort of creative revolution and recombination of ideas, especially concerning the use of colour and texture. Minju Kim has lovingly created demon masks in leather, traditionally used to drive away evil spirits but in this instance used to exemplify Kim's masterful use and control of leather to create minute, sharp details in her line of accessories.
Time after time I am easily won over when a designer takes the time to perfect every minute detail of an accessory or garment- big or small and Minju Kim nourishes that obsessive compulsion of mine. Even though it is time-consuming I feel a little better everyday if I wear a nice headband or some brooches or lots of cheap, long necklaces before I go outside; but her method of design integrates fiddly detail into the garments. I think the story of 'Dear My Friend' really comes to life in the finer detail of these costume-like clothes. The leather collars and sweatshirts even act as blank canvas allowing Kim to slip in her illustrations lending contrast to the pastel tones of the coats and dresses. A while ago I mentioned I had been recently reading The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, which is itself dark and creepy and I can only read in small doses. And somehow it kind of connects with the influence of graphic violence on this manga-inspired collection. Nods towards bloodshed are subtle, but at times you can spot the silhouette of dripping blood and the sharp, angular edges of leather on the shoes seem teeth-like after a while.
Usually when a designer presents a collection fit for runway consumption they are something bland, plain and generally disconnected in theme or motif to the clothes themselves. Or they use the shoes as a different platform to add complexity to the narrative they're trying to create- which is just the way it has been for years and years. But never have I seen continuity in technique between shoes and clothes, or thought it possible. So to see mask-headgear matching shoes, peplums and collars was a real eye-opener of the Minju Kim collection. The shoes are platform heels almost 1970s inspired in terms of heel contour adorned in purposeful leather tassels, spikes and shapes wrapped in bright pop colours. It really showed just how passionate the designer had for her creations. In a sad way it kind of limits her capacity as a commercial designer but the appeal in owning something that has so much of the designer's creative vision imbued into the design outweighs that.
At the moment I have serious hair envy for those babes daring enough to wear bombastic colours in pink, yellow and blue- this goes for real life too, my eyes embarrassingly light up and I develop in instant friend crush becoming my most awkward self and gawking until they go away. I know they're just wigs but I've also been thinking about dyeing my hair blond to start with and then taking it from there... challenging myself to wear things more interesting to match my reinvented image. I suppose in that respect, hair is sometimes like a mask. We can hide behind it, become different people when we change it and project a different image into the real world. Behind it, we see how people interact differently with us, when maybe they shouldn't because hair is just hair after all and it will grow back and stuff. Seeing both leather hats in the style of traditional Korean masks, used to ward away evil spirits seems so comforting with cotton candy colored wigs. But I guess I'm most worried about people being mean to me on the street if I did dye my hair pink and want some sort of amulet or symbolism to ward away street harassment.