Tuesday, 26 June 2018

David Bowie Inspires Wooyoungmi's New Menswear Collection

David Bowie's coolly elegant suits and androgynous looks inspired Wooyoungmi's new collection with its mix of Eighties sharp tailoring, Seventies colours and rhinestone chokers. Photograph (above) and Cover picture by Elli Ioannou
Designer Katie Chung has launched her second menswear collection in Paris as solo Creative Director of Wooyoungmi, the fashion house founded by her mother Madame Woo. The Spring/Summer 2019 show is inspired by David Bowie with a romantic bohemian ethos that is close to the designer's heart, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Photographs by Elli Ioannou

A handsome, deconstructed suit with
broad lapels and pin stripes depicting
the Wooyoungmi logo 
WOOYOUNGMI'S new collection was presented in the cavernous, utilitarian space of a Paris high school with Seventies, geometrically-tiled floors and a wall of large windows flooding the space with light. Located in the French capital's 15th arrondissement, the Lycée Camille-Sée hosted the lively guests on long, low benches in the high-ceilinged room.

It was the perfect backdrop to Katie Chung's iteration of David Bowie in her new show, worn by androgynous models wearing some of the Seventies favourite hues: yellows and browns in stripes and blocks of colour. Combined with a dash of Eighties panache ~ voluminous trench coats and deconstructed blazers with wide lapels and broad shoulders ~ the collection captured today's androgynous zeitgeist  

The designer says she would like the young generation to appreciate the British singer and fashion iconoclast and see his creative legacy explored and reinterpreted. Chung says she wants to present a new version of Bowie, one that inspired her growing up in Seoul. For this latest collection, she didn't want her designs to replicate Bowie's look but rather his sense of style. Her aim is to create a romantic bohemian aesthetic exploring Bowie's gender ambiguity and his play on masculinity and femininity, just as the singer did during his various fashion metamorphoses.

Chung creates a romantic bohemian aesthetic exploring Bowie's gender ambiguity and his play on masculinity and femininity

Yellow tailored jacket and shirt
with large, pointed collar
inspired by Bowie
Chung was particularly drawn to Bowie's coolly elegant tailored Eighties looks that he wore after his earlier, more dramatic stage personae and this is reflected in her range of suits. She has designed the collection using a range of different textiles from checked and pinstriped suits to glimmering knitwear and shirts with a metallic sheen. A luminescent fabric emphasises the more high-tech futuristic approach. Yet the collection also looks back to the power-shoulder, a motif that runs through the collection along with big, deeply pointed collars. There is even a matching yellow jacket and shirt (see at right) that echoes a 1974 Terry O’Neill portrait of David Bowie.

A zing of glam rock heightens the Bowie connection with Chung's use of PVC for check print or peach jackets and shirts worn with denim and leather pants, the gender ambiguity highlighted by glittering diamanté chokers, round handbags and high-heeled, chunky ankle boots. Although mixing streetwear and tailoring is a leitmotif of contemporary menswear, the designer has given it her own signature with its volume, fluidity and combination of soft and hard textures. One of Chung's new additions is the use of the brand's logo WYM that appears on this season's suits, t-shirts and belts.

Mixing streetwear and tailoring is a leitmotif of contemporary menswear, yet the designer has given it her own signature

Voluminous jacket, leather pants, the WYM
belt and high-heeled ankle boots
complete the SS19 look
Katie Chung succeeded her mother at last season's menswear collection after having worked beside her as co-creative director. Chung has said in the past of her childhood that she grew up in her mother's atelier and that she learnt to sew before she could write.

Today, although Madame Woo is still close by and supports her daughter, Katie Chung has confidently taken the reins of Wooyoungmi and is giving it a evocative edge of street style and sportswear that builds on her mother's pioneering legacy as a Korean designer breaking into the Parisian fashion world.

Madame Woo, as she became known, was born in Seoul to an architect and an art and piano teacher. Her father was the head of an architectural firm and travelled overseas extensively, bringing back international magazines which gave Woo Youngmi a sense of the world outside South Korea.

The young Woo became interested in fashion at a time when the country was struggling with post-war political unrest. In 1978, she began her fashion studies at Seoul's Sung Kyun Kwan University. After she graduated in 1983, she was named the winner of the Osaka International Fashion Award, when she was selected to represent Korea.

Katie Chung grew up in her mother's atelier and learnt to sew before she could write

Designer Katie Chung takes her bow
at the finale of her SS19 show in Paris
Later Woo Youngmi launched the menswear brand Solid Homme in 1988, starting with one showroom in Seoul before branching out all over the world. Along with other designer friends, she started the New Wave in the early Nineties, as a platform for young designers to show their work which eventually lead to the creation of Seoul Fashion Week.

The designer founded and launched her own brand Wooyoungmi in 2002 in Paris. The label became known for its art and architecture inspirations and finely tailored menswear with a futuristic edge. Woo Youngmi was showing on the Paris Menswear Week by 2003 and eight years later, the label became an official member of La Chambre Syndicale de la Mode Masculine.

Katie Chung became more involved with her mother's fashion house in 2012 as art director, collaborating with artists for their advertising campaigns. She became joint creative director of the brand with her mother in 2014 later after completing a BA at London’s Central Saint Martins, before taking over the artistic direction of the brand last year.

 Highlights from the Wooyoungmi SS19 Homme Show in Paris
Katie Chung succeeded her mother at last season's Wooyongmi menswear collection after having worked beside her as co-creative director.
Mixing streetwear and tailoring is a leitmotif of contemporary menswear, but Katie Chung has given it her own signature with its volume, fluidity and combination of soft and hard textures.

Guests in the front row at Wooyoungmi SS19, the show was located in the French capital's 15th arrondissement, at the Lycée Camille-Sée.
Katie Chung's aim with the new collection was to create a romantic bohemian aesthetic exploring David Bowie's gender ambiguity and his play on masculinity and femininity.
Models wore some of the favourite Seventies hues: yellows and browns in stripes and blocks of colour.
Guests at the of Wooyoungmi SS19 show held in the cavernous, utilitarian space of a Paris high school.

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