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Designer bridges music and fashion

Lee Ju-young, daughter of female designer Sul Yun-hyoung and C’est Si Bon music café owner, dresses top musicians


This is the sixth in a series of articles on up-and-coming Korean designers. ― Ed.

Her parents equally influenced her ― Lee Ju-young, founder and designer of the brand Resurrection, loves both music and fashion.

Lee’s mother is Sul Yun-hyoung, a veteran women’s wear designer, and her father used to own C’est Si Bon, the 1960s and 1970s popular rock caf in South Korea where stars like Kim Min-gi, Kim Se-hwan and Song Chang-shik used to sing. Lee married a rocker, Kim Bada, who was the vocalist in the rock group Sinawe.

“We used to have heaps of LPs. Singers would come to the caf and sing on my dad’s birthday, and I would watch him make programs. Music influenced me greatly. The cultural shocks I felt through music at the time became the base of my brand. In my point of view, music and fashion are inseparable,” Lee told The Korea Herald. 
Lee Ju-young at her shop, decorated with artwork inspired by Medieval Christian art, in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
Lee Ju-young at her shop, decorated with artwork inspired by Medieval Christian art, in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

She played cello for about ten years and majored in it at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, U.S. But she said it was not such a dramatic change for her when she entered Parsons School of Design and turned quickly to a career in fashion.

“I used to be surrounded with fabrics and designers. I have always been interested in fashion design. I guess I sort of had a feeling that I would do it one day. As I got older, I realized that being a designer would allow more ways for me to express myself thoroughly, than being a musician,” said Lee.

Sul was furious at first, hearing her daughter’s change of heart, knowing what a competitive field the fashion industry was. But as she saw Lee gradually become more seasoned, working at Sul Yun-hyoung Boutique for about 10 years, she became a big supporter of her daughter.

Lee launched her own label, Resurrection, in 2004. She has a shop in Seoul; supplies to several concept stores in New York and Copenhagen; and is in talks with buyers in Amsterdam and China. But what is most impressive is the list of her musician clientele including Marilyn Manson, Lady Gaga and Black Eyed Peas.

“It is hard to find menswear with as much detail and character as mine. I think that is why musicians like them. That is in fact why I started menswear as well. I used to do styling a lot, and I could not find clothes that I wanted to dress men in. So I decided to make them myself. There are not many female menswear designers, and I think I have an advantage because I know what style men and women are attracted to,” said Lee.

The brand does both men’s and women’s wear but is better known for the first. Motivated by Christian art from the Middle Ages ― as can be guessed from the name of the brand ― Lee’s designs appear to be mostly gothic, dark and weighty.

Rock music, of course, is another one of her inspirations.

“When a particular song really touches my heart, I search information about the musician, what kind of fashion trend was there at the time, etc, and translate it into my collection, my color,” said Lee, a mother of two who blew off her stress at the recent Jisan Valley Rock Festival.

She is currently focusing on the collaboration line she will soon be launching with Will.i.am, a member of Black Eyed Peas. Titled “i.am by Resurrection,” it will first roll out in the 2013 S/S collection.

“I am really thankful when overseas musicians, especially ones I really like, appreciate my designs and wear them. I have been dressing Will.i.am, and he is the type of person who just loves clothes. I think this will be a great opportunity to promote my designs. The price will be ranged a bit lower than high-end, and we are first aiming for the U.S. market,” said Lee.

Next month, she will be showcasing her clothes in New York under the name “2011 Concept Korea.” It is not her first appearance in the Big Apple but this time she is going as team Korea, with four other Korean designers.

“I am going to showcase some unique menswear ― I am trying to make very edgy menswear with soft and spongy materials. Black has always been the main color but I’m going for colorful this season as well,” said Lee.

By Park Min-young  (claire@heraldcorp.com)
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