Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vogue Korea December Issue

Cheerful, frivolous and amusing, this editorial captures the Christmas spirit in its juxtaposition of sparkles and evening wear with warm, luxurious outerwear, gift wrapped with baubles, bows and a cute dalmatian. Called Jingle Bells, the spread was photographed by Barley.

Korean Designers: Miss Gee Collection

Gee Choon Hee launched Miss Gee Collection in a small boutique in Myeong dong in 1979. Since then, the label has grown and expanded to become respected and loved by K-pop celebrities and Korean fashionistas alike. Gee Choon Hee has displayed her work on the runways of Seoul Fashion Week since 2000 and this year closed Spring/Summer 2011.

The aesthetic of Miss Gee Collection maximises the feminine shape with well cut but simple pieces using extravagant, rich fabrics. The photos above are from the Spring/Summer 2011 show where the theme for the line was Ladies and Gentlemen. Hence, mannish wide legged trousers were contrasted with silk blouses. Tailored shorts were kept long and modest. Yet, this refinement gave way to flamboyant evening dresses which closed the show.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Geeky Specs

Some famous spectacle wearers

To use a cliche, I am as blind as a bat. Since the age of five, I have needed glasses. As I become older, my eyes are becoming progressively worse. With distant memories of being called four eyes, I started wearing contact lenses, self-conscious of wearing glasses and worried that they ruined outfits. Vain, maybe, I know. My glasses would only see daylight for exams and flights. That is until I came to Korea.

Living in Korea has changed my opinion of specs. At home, glasses are inherently geeky uncool. They incite visions of spotty teenagers who excel in science class. In Korea, they are stylish and fashionable. They are so fashionable that even if you have 20/20 vision, you can still buy fake ones from the many market stalls in Myeong dong. In the UK, thick black framed specs are generally only worn by cool indie kids. In Korea, they are the norm.

So, I decided to embrace my blindness and invest in a pair of stylish specs from an eyewear store called Alo. Walking into Alo eyewear in Myeong dong is an extremely different experience from popping into your local Specsavers. The opticians here are glossy, 'eyewear stores' where the assistants are young twenty somethings wearing skinny jeans, checked shirts and geeky specs, obviously. Techno blasts on the stereo whilst Koreans stumble and push in front of mirrors, checking their reflection. The girl, who checked my eyes, was a lovely, young Korean tomboy. Speaking perfect English, she advised and guided me through the array of multi coloured frames. I settled on a pair of black, slightly thick frames, similar to the ones below.
In Alo, frames are priced between 30,000 to 120,000 won. Lenses are priced around 60,000 for a pair. The service in Alo was efficient and friendly. My glasses were ready an hour after my eyetest. So fast! If you ever come to Korea, I would advise you to buy glasses here. Even if your eyesight is perfect, treat yourself to a fake pair. According to Koreans, they are very stylish after all.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Shoulders v Legs: a difference of opinion

Korean women and Western women have differing preferences and attitudes towards clothing. Throughout my time here, I have noticed trends and fashion which I can only describe as "very Korean". And I'm sure if a Korean visited Oxford street in London, they would notice trends which are very British.

There is one attitude which I'm intrigued by and it is portrayed in the cartoon above. Korean women wear very, very short skirts. Sometimes, I have been taken aback by how short. When the temperature starts to fall, bare legs are covered with tights and leggings but the hemline remains the same. Yet, in my eleven months here, I have rarely seen a Korean woman wearing a plunging neckline or a strapless dress even in the heat and humidity of the long summer months. Bare shoulders and cleavage are a contentious issue here, much more contentious than a flash of behind. Displaying your shoulders is considered much more revealing than displaying your legs. But why? I spent some time researching this but unfortunately, I can't find a clear cut reason. It's mentioned it is more sexual and provocative to show cleavage in a country as conservative as Korea. Yet, I couldn't find out why showing your legs is deemed as more conservative.

Perhaps, there does not need to be a reason why. Korea and the UK or the States have distinctive cultures with varying social attitudes. It is just a difference of opinion of what is revealing and acceptable. So, Western women will continue to be shocked by how short the hemlines are in Korea and Korean women will continue to be shocked by how much cleavage Western women show. If anybody has a concrete answer though, please let me know.

Chilly Seoul: ten ways to stay stylish in the big freeze

'Tis the season for snuggling by a crackling fire, watching Audrey Hepburn charm George Peppard, with a cup of hot chocolate in hand. The temperature has plummeted and we are now amid the perpetual winter months. I am not fond of winter. I resent leaving my cosy abode to venture out into the cold wind and snow. Yet, it is not all bad. Winter clothes can be chic, classic and fun. In summer, we are restricted to wearing one or two pieces, a summer dress with sandals or shorts and a blouse. But, in Winter, it is a chance to experiment, to layer up, to invest in timeless winter coats. Freezing temperatures are an excuse to buy new knitted scarves, leather gloves and practical but lovely boots. Yet, it is difficult to stay warm without looking bulky. It is even more difficult to look stylish but stay practical. When I must leave my apartment, here is what I'll be wearing to be stylish and warm (hopefully, I wont get caught in any blizzards though).

1) A cable knit jumper
Cable knit jumper are chic and easy to wear. I wear my cream Arran knit over dresses and with skinny jeans and lots of necklaces.

2) Brogue boots (with good soles)
Invest in good, flat boots. Biker boots, Chelsea boots and brogue boots are all stylish and can easily be incorporated into you wardrobe.

3) Uniqlo heat tech
Last Winter, Uniqlo launched HeatTech, a range of thermal leggings, tops and underwear designed to turn moisture from your body into heat. The fabric is lightweight, comfortable and thin, so it moulds perfectly to your body. The line comes in a range of colours and designs.

4) Shearling
Lining aviator jackets, boots, hats and gloves, shearling has moved from the shining glare of the catwalks to the wintry high street. Since Burberry launched its aviator jacket in February, shearling has become the most successful winter trend this season. Yes, I know this means everybody is buying it but it is cosy and practical. So be a fashion victim and embrace this trend, you definitely won't complain.

5) Ear muffs
Ear muffs are a great, fun alternative to hats. I do find it slightly disconcerting that you can't hear that well when you put them on. Just make sure your phone is on it's highest volume and you look twice before you cross the road.

6) Over the knee socks
Peeking out of boots or worn over leggings and tights, over the knee socks are an interesting way to layer your bottom half and keep your legs warm. I've spotted some great cable knit ones in Myeong dong.

7) Faux fur
The glamour and lux of faux fur looks stylish and carefree when contrasted against a casual outfit. I wear my faux fur coat with skinny jeans and flat boots. Faux fur trapper hats with ear flaps seem to be very popular this winter too.

8) A Camel Wool coat
It is a classic, sophisticated option for winter outerwear and more importantly, it is an option with endurance, one that will withstand the fickle nature of fashion from season to season. The coat above is from Uniqlo.

9) Mittens
Mittens are slightly annoying and useless really when you try to get money out of your purse or answer your phone. Frankly, you can't do anything involving the use of your fingers but they are cute, girly and youthful.

10) And finally, it is the season for a.....Christmas Jumper. Reindeers, snowflakes, even Santa......go to a vintage shop and buy the most hideous, bright, funny jumper you can find! Preferably from the 80s too!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Vogue Korea November Issue

Constance Jablonski impeccably modelling winter separates. Photographed by Rafael Stahelin,
the model looked relaxed but stunning in masculine outfits.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Seoul Fashion Week S/S 11: Imseonoc

Designer: Seon Oc IM

Imseonoc brand concept: Combining urban, avant garde, classic

S/S 11 collection: The Colour, extreme modernity changing shape with imagination

Material and colour: nylon, outdoor material, earth green, blue, red

This collection was sporty and practical with a chic twist. Midi length skirts were worn with fake leather blazers and raincoats. Dresses were uniquely proportioned with zip details. Information above is from

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Watch Out London... looking back on Seoul Fashion Week

Seoul Fashion Week S/S 11: LeyII

Seung Hee Lee's collection was delicate, feminine and appeared light and airy. After graduating from Central St Martin's with an MA in womenswear, Seung Hee Lee launched LeyII in 2009. Since then, the label has gained avid fans in London, Seoul and Paris. The concept behind this collection was drawn from marbling techniques and the mixing of oil and water. So, fabric was folded, draped and layered to create beautiful, new silhouettes. Using soft wool, chiffon and silk in subtle shades of lemon, ivory and warm grey, the collection played with proportions to surprising effect. Particularly interesting was a duck egg blue, long skirt, reminiscent of origami.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Seoul Fashion Week S/S 11: Lie Sang Bong Paris

Deluxe materials and geometric shapes were used by Lie Sang Bong to create tailored, architectural pieces, inspired by the movie Santa Sangre. Dresses were well structured with interesting, flattering details. Images of birds and the use of applique feathers were recurrent motifs in the collection. Lie Sang Bong utilised these to signify freedom in his chic designs. The maxi dresses in red, black and white were also particularly Asiatic in demeanor. They epitomised the designer's fusion of art, culture and fashion. The information above is from Photos from Feetman Seoul.

Seoul Fashion Week S/S 11: Steve J & Yoni P

Steve J and Yoni P's collection was youthful and fresh. Tailored stripey blazers were styled with ikat print leggings. Khaki parkas were worn with animal print harem pants. In fact, animal print featured prominently in the collection. I particularly like the zebra print jumpsuit above. Unfortunately, I couldn't find much information on the designers. Yet, from looking at photographs, the designs appear comfortable, modern and fun.