Ji Eun Sung, 33
South Korea
Collection: Upbeat Sound of Samul Nori

Audi Star Creation 2013 finalists JI EUN SUNG

Ji Eun Sung is no newcomer to the fashion scene, with almost a decade of designing experience in South Korea and New York. The 33-year old graduated from Samsung Art and Design Institute in Korea in 2006, and New York’s Parsons the New School for Design in 2010, and has worked for designers such as Yoana Baraschi as well as at Herman Kay and Bodypolitic. She draws her inspiration from the culture of both cities, which feed into her designs. Her collection ‘Upbeat Sound of Samul Nori’ was inspired by a traditional four-piece percussion ensemble commonly found in Korea.

Tell us more about yourself
I studied hotel management when I started college but dropped out. I took a little time to figure out what I really want to be, then decided that fashion design was for me. I enrolled at the Samsung Art and Design Institute in Korea in 2003, and graduated in 2006. I then went to New York in 2007 and entered Parsons the New School for Design to learn more about fashion design and improve my skills. I graduated from Parsons in 2010 and have been working in both New York and Seoul ever since. I have worked for fashion labels that include Yoana Baraschi, Herman Kay and Bodypolitic.

What stands out about your collection?
My collection was inspired by the traditional Korean percussion quartet, Samulnori, which is traditionally performed in rice farming villages to celebrate good harvests. Four virtuoso percussionists wear symbolically coloured costumes and play the Samul- four percussion instruments ‒ while performing ceremonial leaps and spins. I drew on the colours and details of the costumes and instruments, and tried to capture the overall mood of the performance as well as the dynamic movements of the performers. This show up in the fabric patterns and silhouettes. I used yellow, blue and red as the predominant colours for the collection.

What are your thoughts on Korea’s fashion industry?
Korea’s fashion industry is still young, especially in terms of industry size and consumer acceptance of bolder designs. We have yet to reach the ranks of fashion cities like Milan, London, Paris or New York. That said, the fashion landscape is blossoming. Consumers are demanding local designs, thanks to progressive mindsets and rising prosperity. Korea’s large-scale and inexpensive manufacturing infrastructure also helps, because designers can put out collections quickly and cost-effectively, which means being able to price competitively. I hope to see Korea become a fashion capital one day.

What new ideas do you think you bring to the fashion scene in the region?
I would like to introduce the idea of Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) into Korea. It is an idea that started in the West but is slowly gaining ground in Asia. LOHAS is not just about being environmentally friendly but also about sustainable consumption. Through investment it drives progress in fashion industries of developing countries.

Felix Nai, 20
Collection: Ephemeral Awakening

Audi Star Creation 2013 finalists FELIX NAI

Felix’s collection ‘Ephemeral Awakening’ is based on the brief moment between sleep and wakefulness, when thoughts are blurry and out-of-focus. He uses the cherry blossom and pastels to convey this transient state, overlaying organza on dyed fabrics to create a diaphanous effect. Volume, meanwhile, helps create a malleable, indistinct silhouette. Felix describes his collection as atypical – surreal, light and blurred – appealing to free-spirited men and women between 28 and 35 years. Newly graduated from Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Apparel Design and Merchandising, the 20-year-old is one of the youngest finalists this year.

Tell us more about yourself
My mother was a seamstress, and I grew up watching her make clothes for my elder siblings on her sewing machine. It prompted an early interest in fashion. When I was a teenager, I went through a phase when I was keen on anything to do with imperial court life, and I would often watch period dramas. I was fascinated by the traditional costumes and even created an artwork related to historical figures for my ‘O’ Levels. I enrolled at the School of Apparel Design and Merchandising at Temasek Polytechnic in 2010.

What are the highlights of your collection?
My collection is named Ephemeral Awakening, and is inspired by the in-between state between sleep and awakening. As we awaken from our sleep, we experience total clarity before our senses kick in – the “hypnogogic state” – and that is what I wanted to capture. I wanted the pieces to have blurred silhouettes, and achieved that using disrupted lines. Self-dyed fabrics were overlaid with organza to create an out-of-focus effect.

What are your thoughts on Singapore’s fashion industry?
I strongly believe that Singaporeans should start learning to appreciate designs that are less-than mainstream. Singaporeans tend not to be very adventurous when it comes to bolder designs and that, in turn, limits what designers put out. I think they need to be more open to the unusual.

What is your greatest fear with regards to the public’s perception of your collection?
I worry that when people see my collection, they just think of it as pleasing to the eye but are not really interested in the concept behind it. The details in any collection can be better appreciated if one learns the story behind it.

Audi Star Creation 2013 will take place on May 13, 2013. It is part of Singapore’s Asia Fashion Exchange. For more information, check out www.starcreation.sg; you can follow Audi Star Creation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/StarCreationSG and on Twitter at @StarCreationSG. Stay tuned for more designer insights as we bring you the 12 finalists for Audi Star Creation 2013.