Left: A model shows off a slim skirt, loose top and scarf from the W Concept by doo.ri collection. New York-based designer Doori Chung collaborated with online retailer Wiz Wid for a line of “affordable luxury” clothes geared to Korean consumers.
Right: A model wears a feminine trench coat with detachable capelet from the W Concept by doo.ri collection designed by Doori Chung, during a fashion show at Dear Chocolate, Cheongdam-dong, Wednesday. / Yonhap
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Her sexy jersey dresses are worn by Hollywood celebrities, splashed on the pages of Vogue, sold in New York and London ― there's little doubt that Korean-American designer Doo-ri Chung has made it in the fashion world.
Chung is now bringing New York style to Seoul with a special collection for online retailer Wiz Wid (www.wizwid.com). She was in Seoul last week to launch the W Concept by doo.ri, a line of ``affordable luxury'' pieces catered to the Korean market.
``There is a way the people dress here, just as there's a way people dress in Paris. There's a very New York sensibility. I wanted to bring a bit of that. … It's a channel for me to do that because I don' t do that with my own collection, so it's a nice way to evolve that sensibility and that's what I do with this Wiz Wid collection,'' Chung told The Korea Times, over coffee last Friday.
The W Concept by doo.ri collection featured feminine trench coats, jersey dresses, streamlined puffer vests, knit tops and stylish coats in black, gray and blue. Unlike her usual line, the W Concept collection is more affordable with pieces starting at 200,000 won.
Chung said the materials used for the collection are different, but the silhouettes and the overall sensibility are the same. However, some of the sexier designs for jersey pieces were toned down for the more conservative Korean market.
Chung's success story has always a subject of keen interest in Korea. Her family moved to the United States when she was four years old. Chung was always interested in the arts, particularly fashion illustration. She majored in fashion design at Parsons School of Design.
After graduation, she worked at Banana Republic for six months and worked for fashion designer Geoffrey Beene for six years. Working for Beene was ``amazing, '' but Chung admitted, for the first two years, she went to work thinking she was going to get fired that day.
Feeling she should challenge herself more, Chung made the decision to start her own business. With a $100,000 loan from her parents, she set up a studio in the basement of her parents' dry cleaning business in New Jersey.
``I couldn't have done what I did without them (my parents). It's not just the money. Money is important, yes, but my mother helped me sew, my father picked up the clothes from the production house. They fed me. It's little things like that. … My parents became my co-workers, as opposed to Mom and Dad. They helped me out in my business and they cared so much. It's amazing to have that,'' Chung said.
Chung's success came swiftly. A year after launching her label, she was named a finalist in the first-ever Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund (CVFF).
``It's so funny because there were 10 people nominated there and I felt like I was the only one that didn't know anybody. All these people had their established businesses and mine was just forming. It was kind of intimidating, and then you're meeting Anna Wintour (Vogue editor-in-chief),'' she said.
A few years alter, she won the Samsung Fashion Design Fund Award, CFDA Swarovski/Perry Ellis Award for Emerging Design Talent and the CVFF grand prize.
Chung advises young aspiring designers to not listen to anyone else, and to trust their own judgment. ``Just listen to yourself. If you don't have the conviction and you need someone else to tell you that, you're in the wrong industry. You have to be self-assured and you really have to know what you want to do,'' Chung said.
In the future, Chung wants to open her own store in New York and launch a secondary line.
And what do her parents think of her success? Chung says her parents are proud and happy about it, but their concerns haven't changed.
``They're still my parents and the only concern is `Are you eating well? You look so skinny','' she laughed.