Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Seoul Fashion Week, S/S 2009, is kind of blah.

This is one reason why the current Seoul Fashion Week is just blah: Seoul Fashion Week’s Got a Rift. Believe me, there are others, but I'll wait on those for now.

It's unfortunate because fashion weeks are the time for local designers to show off their collections to both local and international press and buyers. If the designers don't all show together, there is no way the international contingent is going to double back. It's basically a lost marketing opportunity. It just seemed extremely odd that quite a few big players weren't showing this time. Unfortunately, their non-participation dampens the entire production.

It's not a completely boring event. It's just in contrast to the energy at the last one, this one is lacking. However, yesterday the International Fashion Exchange was great. They featured four Asian design collections: Thuy, Steve J and Yoni P, Eley Kishimoto and Ravage by Raj Shroff & Neetu Gunta. It was nice to see collections by Asian designers from other regions. There was also a Global Fashion Forum featuring three notable fashion specialists: Diane Pernet, Nicole Fall and Félix Boukobza. However, neither event was publicized widely, so attendance was very light. I was a bit embarrassed for the organizers because of the low amount of people in attendance. These things should be packed and, this time around, they're not.

Also, the folks in charge haven't been the most accommodating with the press. I've heard a range of murmurs and rants about bad experiences from others. I've seen some crazy behavior from the organizers before the shows begin regarding press and seating. (Basically, things like demanding that press not sit in seats designated as "press".) I now officially have one "crazy ass Korean" fashion week story of my own. Even though I'd scheduled an interview with the PR contact for one of the designers bought in for the International Fashion Exchange and was escorted in by a PR rep, someone else approached me as I was starting my interview and asked "who are you?!" I do get that these designers are VERY high profile people, but that's why I made sure my access to her was legit. Knowing I'd done the right thing by communicating with the designer's PR division directly, getting the okay from them to interview her last week and making sure I went out of my way to let the with the PR reps on site know I'd set this up, I knew all was good. So when someone approached me like I was some interloper, I was nothing but cool. However, it did feel like I was in one of those old David Spade "and you are?" Saturday Night Live skits.

As the most important person in this situation, the designer, knew I'd been in direct contact with her company to arrange the interview, I didn't mind the rudeness too much. It was yet another case of arrogance coupled with botched communication on a few levels; and stories like that in fashion are legion. I just answered the questions and wondered how this person's lack of graciousness and, frankly, lack of class was playing out in the head of the designer sitting across from me. It was more funny than irritating because this was coming from a woman who is also a well-known member of the Korean press and this person was also a prominent figure in the Global Fashion Forum event. It's the epitome of non sequitur behavior since, again, fashion weeks are merchandising and publicity events. The point is to get press and generate sales. It's more of a shame that there is such a high level of unprofessionalism in an event that claims it's trying to establish itself as "world class". I mean really. I wasn't pulling an impromptu interview ambush on, American Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour*. There are moments to be harsh with the press, but it's not really when someone has actually gone out of their way to play by the rules and has scheduled an interview. What is showed was, as usual, Koreans have a very hard time organizing themselves and communicating effectively. (* Here is that blogger's take on what happened and why she bum rushed Anna Wintour.)

My little story is nothing actually. I just heard a doozy of a story that I'm not at liberty to disclose, but I'm truly shocked that someone I know with backstage access press pass got harshed so severely right before a show.

It's not all a loss. And, don't get me wrong, the shows I've attended at SETEC, the main venue for Seoul Fashion Week, have been very nice and well put together. But there is a clear lack of energy and, even worse, some serious arrogance coming from some of the people putting on the event. I'm not the only person commenting on it.

For interesting, energetic and still happening, there are the Generation Next events over at Daily Projects and De Vill Hwa Soo Mok. Both venues are also in Seoul and they will have events going all week long. I went to the opening runway show of some of the featured young designers at Daily Projects tonight and that was both fun and exciting to see. There were also a few great pieces. Kudos to Lauren Kovin whose draped pieces were just lovely. My favorite is this blue dress.

So, as you can see, all is not lost. It's only Tuesday, so here is hope that things just might continue to pick up. I hope so.

Here is some visual proof that all is not amiss. here are three photos from the Resurrection by Juyoung runway show.

And yes, the model in this last shot is Andrew Gordon. He is an American model who is based in Seoul; I interviewed and wrote about him a few months ago.

Runway photos by Denise Lejcar and courtesy of FeetManSeoul.com

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