updated 4 Apr 2014, 13:36
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Fri, Mar 28, 2014
The Korea Herald/Asia News Network
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Hallyu buoys Korean fashion

Hundreds of Chinese fans were in a frenzy at the opening of Seoul Fashion Week last Friday, when K-pop boy group EXO took the catwalk presenting the latest works by young Korean designers.

Launched in 2000 the event has emerged as one of Asia's most prestigious showcases thanks to gorgeous collections, dazzling stage design and the high popularity of Korean TV dramas and music overseas.

"K-pop and Korean dramas play an important role in attracting attention to Korean fashion," said Griffin Chan, senior buyer of Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong.

"He is among 125 foreign buyers including 82 from mainland China and Hong Kong.His colleague Tony Lee praised Korean design for its creativity and attention to detail. Especially among aficionados of hallyu, or Korean Wave, what celebrities wear on TV dramas boosts interest in Korean fashion," he said.

"Fans go wild about what Korean star actors and actresses wear on TV dramas. It's a large factor attracting attention to Korean fashion," Lee, merchandizing manager of the company, said.

Seoul Fashion Week is considered the second-most influential show in Asia after Tokyo Fashion Week. Some designer brands that present regular collections at the event have entered high-profile multi-fashion shops in Asia and beyond.

Menswear brands Cy Choi, Juun.J and Songzio are featured in the MC2 showroom in Paris. S Style Group in Kuwait imports Korean designers' brands such as Lie Sang Bong, Doii, Big Park and Kumann Yoo Hye-jin. Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong showcases Steve J and Yoni P, pushButton, ARCHE and Kosoyoung.

Seoul Design Foundation, one of its organizers, has pledged to help designers enter Asian fashion markets.

"The Korean Wave, hallyu, is driving the popularity of not just music, but also fashion. The Seoul Fashion Week will give further momentum to designers eyeing the Asian market, among others, and we will also back them up," said Baek Jong-won, CEO of the foundation.

For the fall-winter collections for 2014, designers presented nicely tailored coats and jackets that featured combinations of different fabrics and details.

Steve J and Yoni P, for one, presented their signature lace, see-through trench coat with flower motifs. The duo designers' brand offered a unique take on pinstripes and military-style jackets. The conventional expressions were mixed with corset motifs, lace and flower patterns, which added fun and wit to their look.

Johnny Hates Jazz showed a variety of winter outwear with a crescent detail inspired by Vikings. The long gray, black coats are guaranteed to please with their gold crescent accessories on the lapels and sleeves. Usually winter creations such as a navy belted trench coat and a gray padded jacket are elevated with hand-drawn stripes on the fabric or crescent accessories on the sleeves.

Kaal E. Suktae presented a fresh perspective on the 1990s grunge style through black-and-white structured overcoats with fringe details on the hemlines or sleeves.

Although womenswear shows command the centre stage at the fashion week, it is the menswear collections that attract the most favourable responses from foreign buyers and the press every season.

"Menswear designers are talented. Their designs are unique and creative," said Nathalie Cazeaud Hillaire of MC2 showroom in Paris.

Chan lauded the peculiar presentation of Moonsoo Kwon, who utilized a key and a door as symbols of hope, and Cy Choi's attentiveness to details in his menswear collection, which set it apart from other designers' creations.

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