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Looking to the skies for fashion inspiration : Veteran designer Park Youn-soo points to the potential of local designers as a sign of Seoul Fashion Week’s success

Nov 01,2017
Designer Park Youn-soo of Big Park [PARK YOUN-SOO]
Fashion brand Big Park’s collection was inspired by the movie “Dunkirk” (2017). The skirt above had 32,000 golden pins, which fell off on the runway to symbolize falling bullets. [BIG PARK]
Looks from Big Park’s “Flight of Fancy” collection, presented at Hera Seoul Fashion Week 2018. [BIG PARK]
Hera Seoul Fashion Week 2018 Summer/Spring wrapped up on Oct. 21, bringing to an end a week’s worth of fashion shows and events that brought excited fashionistas and some 170 buyers from around the world to Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in central Seoul to take a look at what’s next in the world of Korean fashion.

One of the 41 runway shows that took place inside of DDP was from designer Park Youn-soo’s latest brand Big Park. The show was titled “Flight of Fancy.”

Park’s show was a fashionable reinterpretation of “Dunkirk,” the 2017 movie that depicts four soldiers’ fight for survival during WWII. A colorful airplane motif was carried throughout the collection’s clothing. Armbands and masculine boots reminded the audience of military uniforms, and the strong music in the background created a wartime atmosphere on the runway.

“Everyone has a fire that burns within themselves,” said Park. “It’s a designer’s job, if not everyone else’s job, to bring out that fire with a creative mind.”

Don’t be fooled by his youthful looks: Park is one of the oldest designers in Korea, and he still releases a collection every season. After winning the 1980 JoongAng Design Contest hosted by JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, Park launched his first brand, “Park Youn Soo All Style” in 1985 and has been active in the Korean fashion scene ever since. He translated his ideas into designs through his Park Youn Soo collection, until 2012 when he launched the contemporary brand, Big Park, in London.

After successfully pulling off his show at this season’s fashion week, the veteran designer wants to keep going for years to come. The following are edited excerpts of an interview the designer had with the Korea JoongAng Daily.

Q. Now that your show has wrapped up, how do you feel?

A fashion show isn’t just where you dress the models and show off the clothes that you’ve made. You have to structure it so that it stimulates all the five senses, not just the visuals. You have about 15 minutes to show people all of your creativity, but it’s a little harder to do that with the spring/summer collection, because the clothes are lighter and there’s little room for you to experiment. I was able to try new things this season, such as designing more men’s clothes and combining modern androgynous chic with a touch of femininity.

When and how did you start your career as a designer?

I actually started walking down this path because I didn’t like studying and using my brains too much (laughs).

I liked painting a lot as a child, and found that I also liked and was good at reforming and designing my own clothes. That’s how I began. My first collection that I made was in 1986, and ever since then, I have pulled off more then 50 collections. Although I feel proud of all the time I’ve spent as a designer, those years do come across as a kind of responsibility and heaviness on my shoulders as a senior designer.

How did you come up with this season’s theme?

To be honest, when you start a collection, it’s not like you decide on a certain theme and design the pieces to go with that idea. Rather, you just create everything that comes to your mind, gather them all together in a single room and then see what the pieces have in common. I didn’t say, “Oh, I’m going to make a collection about ‘Dunkirk,’” but I guess I was hung up on the idea of escaping and travelling, and also I really liked the music and the fighter planes in the movie. The planes are so beautiful - plus they make really good patterns, too.

Do you think this season’s Seoul Fashion Week was successful?

It was great for people to come and enjoy it, and see what style of clothes they like. It was also a good opportunity for younger designers, because they get a chance to get in contact with people who are important in the industry. We got in touch with new buyers at the “Generation Next Seoul” program. Seoul Fashion Week is a good chance to get ourselves out there.

Working with new designers, such as my daughters [J Park and Sooy Park work with their father on the Big Park collection and their own brand, July Column] is like seeing new utopias of fashion. So much has changed since I started, and it keeps doing so at a faster rate every day.

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]

Giving local designers a global look

Seoul Fashion Week provided multiple opportunities for young designers to meet foreign buyers. Leah Kim, a buyer from Barney’s New York, said the two designers of Blindness, Shin Kyu-yong and Park Ji-sun, were “very unique” in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo. The brand was awarded 200 million won ($179,000) by Jung Kuho, the director of Seoul Fashion Week.

On Oct. 26, the Seoul Design Foundation opened Seoul’s 10Soul, a pop-up store in Selfridges, London, which will run until Nov. 12. The store features clothes from 10 Korean design brands, including: D.Gnak, Resurrection, Blindness, Moohong, Nohke, Pushbutton, D-Antidote, Munn and Bourie.