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Concept Korea Spring 2014 Fashion Collections

Since its inception in February 2010, Concept Korea has endeavored to showcase the work of some of the most innovative fashion designers in Korea during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City. Thanks to this cross-cultural initiative, Korean designers are introduced to buyers, editors, stylists, writers, bloggers, and consumers all over the world — not just via their participation in the runway show itself but also thanks to the attention given to this show by the media (and, in this day and age, by social media influencers who blog, tweet, and Instagram about the pieces they admire on the catwalk). Each season, four designers are selected to participate within the Concept Korea runway show.

For the eighth season of Concept Korea , the brands selected were: KAAL E.SUKTAE by Lee Suk Tae, CHOIBOKO by CHOIBOKO, beyond closet by Ko Tae Young, and Big Park by Park Youn Soo.  Each participant showcased 12 unique looks and, given the unique perspective of each designer, each quarter of the runway show told its own self-contained story.

In the video above, you can check out all four collections as models emerge for the finale walk. Below, meanwhile, you’ll find more details on three of the four brands (I’m omitting beyond closet since it’s a menswear line), their respective inspirations for Spring 2014, and the defining elements of their collections.









According to designer Suk-Tae Lee, the inspiration behind the KAAL E.SUKTAE Spring 2014 collection was the Biblical phrase, “The stone the builder rejected has become the corner stone” (Psalms 118:22).  The collection, then, integrates a number of architectural motifs — from Y-shaped silhouettes to block-shaped bodices and sleeves, rounded sleeves with openings along their centers to create the illusion of a molding or an arch, linear cut-outs resembling frames of steel, color-blocking techniques, and even chunky block-shaped bracelets. Similarly, the color palette was meant to remind audiences of building materials like concrete, iron, steel, asphalt, and marble.

The entire collection felt bold and audacious, but the more avant-garde pieces were the true stand-outs — particularly, a white low-waisted pant paired with a white tank top featuring thick, overall-like straps and, running perpendicular to these straps, right along the bust and the center of the back, broad and flat rectangular panels that effectively sandwiched the model’s body, their ends extending well past the model’s arms. Similarly impressive was a long-sleeved black top with a Tetris-like white block shape along its front panel and open arm sleeves outlined in a raised white fabric.

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Designer Choiboko’s Spring 2014 collection was an ode to the exaggerated colors and patterns, as well as the defiant but playful spirit of Korea’s Arirang Punk culture.  This rebellious spirit was instantly palpable in large part thanks to the models’ hair looks, which incorporated feathers and hair pieces in bold orange and red tones, all teased and given mussy, grunge-like textures.

The looks were deliberately chaotic:a pair of printed stockings paired with a sleeveless black T-shirt dress featuring a red tiger appliqué; a long-sleeved dress with a grunge-y plaid print and distressed denim sewn onto the dress’s skirt to create a sense of haphazard layering, the denim itself adorned with a rooster appliqué for even more of a color jolt; and a patchwork-like shift dress with block motifs along the center panel and floral appliqués along the sides worn over ripped black fishnet stockings. Many of the models carried patchwork teddybears or embellished backpacks, adding to the sense of play and the idea of arrested development that served as a thematic undercurrent.

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Though, at first glance, American audiences might think of 1950s rockabilly style and even the cult classic Grease when regarding the Big Park Spring 2014 collection, designer Park Youn Soo actually found inspiration in an entirely different realm — that of folk art. When creating this collection, he was intrigued by two paintings in particular: one depicting a moving phoenix and the other featuring an upside-down view of a bookshelf.

The “library” print, which consists of patterned blocks — some striped, some featuring diamond-shaped patterns, and others boasting concentric squares or Moroccan-tile inspired prints — meant to represent books in their respective bookshelves, appeared on slick garments silk dressed with pleated skirts and leather-trimmed headlines, not to mention a pale blue dress worn under a pink leather apron vest with a horizontal zipper below the waist, and open back, and a halter-style neckline. The “phoenix” print, meanwhile, appeared on an umpire-flavored, black-and-white striped silk top with matching pants, on a cream wool dress, and even on a pale blue striped jacket.

Oddly enough, however, the strongest pieces in the collection were perhaps those without such a heavy reliance on these prints: the biker leather jackets and vests were the epitome of cool (particularly a pink leather number with black piping along the pockets, arm holes, waistline, and collar), as were the pleated skirts, which featured leather trim along their headlines for a schoolgirl-gone-bad edge.

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