The air holds the last gasps of winter mixed with the first breaths of spring. The fashion industry, however, is sprinting far ahead to fall and winter.
The 2013 Seoul Fashion Week (SFW), which completes its six-day run on Saturday, is providing a glimpse of what the country's most talented designers want us to wear for the fall-winter season.
It looks like this year's cold-weather clothing will have a broader color spectrum than autumn leaves. The bold and vivid colors will be matched with shapes and lines that are smart and simple.
The trends of the fall-winter season, of course, will be greatly influenced by the designs featured at upcoming fashion weeks in Paris and London, and other major events. But the daring and innovative creations unveiled this week in Seoul looked impressive enough to have their say.
Vivid and natural
Gone are the days when major fashion shows were overrun with overdone, egoistic creations consumers ultimately found unwearable. The creations by the designers at SFW were simple, modern and occasionally retro. Most seemed as if they could be worn right off the runway.
The shows took place at two venues— the IFC Mall in Yeouido and the Blue Square Convention in Hannam-dong. The Blue Square collections were run by the Council of Fashion Designers of Korea (CFDK), independently from the other venue, which was funded by the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
The color selection was diverse— ranging from blue, green, orange, yellow and pink— but uniformly vivid and vibrant. For menswear, the classic combination of black and white was still dominant, but bolder colors such as pink and red were sprinkled here and there.
For both the men's and women's collections, the striking colors were either used as sub-colors on otherwise monochrome suits to spice them up or were mixed and matched with complementary colors to make them more striking visually.
Such vivid mix-and-match techniques were most clearly seen in Shin Jang-kyoung's collections, where he matched blue with pink, pink with orange and green with blue. Thigh-length coats were mostly collarless and had patterned rims or flower decorations as buttons.
Since the distinctive colors conjured up images of a back-to-the-future kind, the "retro feel" was exaggerated as if they were the modern versions of 1960s to '90s outfits.
Yoo Hye-jin showed two-piece suits that were pleated, puffed or truncated on the arms, chests or skirts. The amplified shapes and wavy seam lines created a futuristic look, inspired by aviators and astronauts.
The designs at the Seoul Collection were, in general, simple and clean-cut, looking professional yet casual. A good example was that of Rubina, who used the least amount of pleats or patterns and let the clothes simply flow naturally, saving the forms of the fabric and amplifying the silhouette of the body. Her collection was full of clothes that looked professional and modern, ready to wear to work immediately.
Such wearable, accessible outfits are likely to be welcomed by the public in the upcoming season. Designers could ill afford to be arrogantly expressive when no-nonsense shopping trends are taking hold amid a bad economy.
"Hot colors such as blue or red are expected to be popular this season and decorative patterns like checks will also be pretty popular. The minimalistic and modern look will be trendy throughout but some fancy decorations will also be sought-after. But still, the looks will be very practical," Lie Sang-bong, designer and chairman of the CFDK, told The Korea Times.
Lie showed a variety of check-patterned designs in his own show. The pattern was inspired by Korea's traditional window frames. Graphic lines overlapped in geometric patterns in his sweaters and pants.
Black was relatively less prominent on the runway, overall, partly due to the economic downturn's psychological effect on fashion.
Rubina Shin Jang-kyoung
"Black is already down because of the difficult economic situation. It's gloomy to wear black. Instead, people are seeking more colorful, printed patterns, as if in an effort to escape from reality," Lie said.
But for men, black is still a norm because of its masculine look.
Check-patterned designs, inspired by Korea's traditional window frames, from Lie Sang-bong's collection
"Korean men aren't as flexible with different colors so they aren't ready to absorb other colors yet, especially in suits," the designer said.
A noticeable phenomenon in the collections was that low heels replaced high heels. The so-called "kill-heels," which are higher than 10 centimeters, weren't spotted.
Yoo Hye-jin Hong Sung-wan
"This is due to the change in outfits. Because the designs are more neutral and modern, the ‘feminine'-looking high heels are leaving," said Lie.
Whereas in previous collections the height of the heels models wore was between 15-20 centimeters, this year, they dropped below 10.