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Korean Wave for fashion

Posted October. 17, 2011 05:11,   


The purple dress U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama wore at an official dinner prepared for Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his wife Kim Yoon-ok, who paid a state visit to Washington, was designed by Korean-American fashion designer Chung Doo-ri. Chung is called the "queen of drape," referring to the draped version of a pleated dress. The dress`s bold design, which removes the shoulder strap and features a noble color and elegant draping, shows Chung`s superb fashion sense. Michelle Obama might have chosen Chung`s dress since the dinner was for the Korean president, but apparently did so because she liked the dress.

Chung`s family moved to the U.S. when she was 4 years old and she grew into a top-class designer in New York. She has received many prizes for her unique designs that emphasizes women`s beauty regardless of body type. She graduated from Parsons The New School for Design, worked as a chief designer under renowned designer Jeffrey Veen, and established the Doo.Ri collection in 2003. Kristen Stewart, an actress who starred in the film "Twilight," and Megan Fox, the lead actress in the movie "Transformers," often choose to wear Chung`s clothing.

Fashion collections in New York open ahead of those in Paris. This means New York leads the global fashion industry. In New York, ethnic Korean designers stand out. Richard Chai, who worked as chief designer for Marc Jacobs, was named a rising star in the fashion industry by The Financial Times. Chris Han, who worked as a designer for MaxMara, and Gene Kang and his wife Hanii Yoon, both of whom operate Y & Kei, are among ethnic Korean designers who have gained fame in the U.S.

Traditionally, Jewish designers have wielded huge influence in the New York fashion industry. Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell said most Jews who immigrated to New York initially worked in the sewing industry, adding that their children could take pride in and adjust themselves to American society thanks to their parents, who had jobs that helped demonstrate creativity. Given that Koreans have skills in making clothes and delicate senses, they can outdo Jewish designers. Almost 30 percent of Parson`s student body is known to be Korean. Hopefully, the Korean Wave will also expand to the fashion industry.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)