BANGKOK - One of Korea’s best-known fashion designers, Lie Sang Bong, brought the mix of Eastern and Western influences that he’s known for to his first “couture” collection that opened the inaugural Asian Couture Fashion Week at Bangkok on September 27, 2012.
Showing his playful personality, the collection blended a large black and white houndstooth print with an explosion of colour in the form of butterflies ‒ both in print and in 3D form as decorative acetate attachments to garments.
The butterfly motif appeared in a stylised version on bodices (above left) in contrast to the linear houndstooth print used in the longer gown (above right). Images: Fide Multimedia
“The concept behind this collection is that I believe I can fly,” explained Lie Sang Bong via two interpreters at an interview prior to the show. “Flying … and my dreams. It’s about the butterfly and it’s cocoon ‒ the finale dress is in the shape of the cocoon. I wanted to show my dream of mixing the West [the houndstooth print] and the East [the colours and prints of butterflies] together. I have always had the feel of trying to mix East and West, from the very first time I was asked about my work.”
The invitation for the Lie Sang Bong Paris Spring Summer 2013 collection show that will run on October 3, 2012, at the Les Beaux-Arts de Paris, also features the same motif. The pieces shown in Bangkok combined looks from the ready-to-wear collection and the bespoke evening wear pieces created as “couture” for ACFW2012, thus tying together the SS13 range and the more theatrical pieces Lie makes for his special customers.
The houndstooth print invitation features a coloured butterfly which opens up to allow it’s “wings” to display, or “escape”, the restricting “cage” of the linear print. “[The] mixing of East and West together can be seen … the butterfly is inside the birdcage [of the houndstooth print] … the pattern is the West and the butterfly is the East,” explained Lie.
The "Eastern" interpretation of the designer's butterfly motif in a gown with 3D wire-work bodice adorned with printed acetate "butterflies" and accompanied with Butterfly glasses.
Image: Fide Multimedia
Lie’s theatrical, “showman” side ‒ the side which produces one off garments for stars like Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and numerous top Korean actresses and singers ‒ actually comes from his original career as an actor in his youth; he graduated from the Seoul Institute of the Arts, majoring in broadcasting and entertainment and has continued his relationship with the industry as a friend and supporter of major K-Pop stars like T.O.P from Big Bang, who’s also known for his acting. “He’s a good friend,” Lie said with a smile during his interview.
When asked about how he combines his more extravagant pieces with the neat, feminine and flattering garments of his extremely popular ready-to-wear line, Lie Sang Bong Paris, the designer explained that he always kept the customer in mind when designing each piece.
“I always have this ‘strategic’ thought in mind when I begin to design; who is the piece for? What is the event? Although I have two kinds of customers, I don’t have a specific idea of who’s more special than the other; every customer is the same, everyone is important,” Lie explained.
“The creativity and the business go together. I’m like a tightrope walker,” Lie joked with a smile, “All designers are the same [in this way], we have to balance the theatrical with the wearable. A design isn’t complete if one takes over from the other.”
Lie admitted, however, that this balance of creativity and wearability can make it difficult to define a collection easily, and he also said that creating “couture” or bespoke pieces was more “creative”.
“I have more freedom with [bespoke] pieces; more freedom than with ready to wear. This is my first ‘couture’ collection, but it was the quality of my ready to wear that influenced my receiving the invitation by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (the official haute couture professional body) to produce a couture collection.”
The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture is the official body that manages the restricted number of fashion designers allowed to use the term “haute couture”, the current list of official members includes only 12 designers, with another six as “correspondent” or foreign members and seven “guest” members, a revolving group who are specially invited by the organising committee; this is the group that Lie Sang Bong has joined.
For the collection he showed in Bangkok, Lie combined pieces of his Spring Summer 2013 ready to wear label with some spectacular “couture” evening gowns. Adding the drama of his show was the use of LED lights; first on his opening dress where the houndstooth print was outlined in cool, blue light and then the “re-opening” with a “rainy day” theme of umbrellas and raincoats, an underlit umbrella protected the garment from “rain” created by clever lighting.
Gowns featuring corset panels of houndstooth print gave way to those embellished with innumerable fluttering butterflies created with painstaking detail by Lie’s creative team; there was a clever “change-over” piece of a long white gown with a specially created print combining the houndstooth morphing into the butterfly print, an obvious combination of Lie’s west meets east theme.
Creative accessories also played a major part in Lie’s show, specially created shoes and large, envelope-style clutches accompanied the gowns decorated with stylised “veins” representing the lines in butterfly wings and creating a 3D effect.
Alongside the exquisite tailoring and feminine shapes that Lie is known for, there was an amazing highlight piece of a “Christmas tree” dress worn by Thai celebrity actress, singer and model Bee Namthip that truly showed Lie’s mischievous side.
Wire-framed dress adorned with hundreds of printed acetate butterflies and worn by Thai celebrity Bee Namthip at the Lie Sang Bong show as the finale piece at Asian Couture Fashion Week 2012.
Image: Fide Multimedia
The entire wire-framed, short dress was covered in what seemed like a million 3D butterflies created from printed acetate; it was simply quite astonishing and while possibly a bit twee by traditional standards, the sheer craziness of it makes one smile despite yourself.
What Lie Sang Bong brings to the couture table is not only beautifully crafted, cut and fitted garments that any woman would be excited to own thanks to their flattering cuts and sheer wearability, but a sense of childlike wonder and fascination with the world.
As an Asian designer in the world of studied coolness, minimalism and long tradition that is the European (Western) fashion industry, Lie is a breath of fresh air, a character who’s still obviously delighted to be alive and a part of the colourful world around him.
For more information about Lie Sang Bong Paris, go to www.liesangbong.com. Asian Couture Fashion Week 2012 is organised by Siam Paragon and Fide Multimedia and is being held at the Royal Paragon Hall, Siam Paragon shopping mall, Bangkok, Thailand. For more information about Siam Paragon, go to www.siamparagon.co.th, for more information about Fide Multimedia & Asian Couture Fashion Week 2012, go to www.fidefashionweeks.com.
The writer attended Asian Couture Fashion Week 2012 courtesy of Siam Paragon and Fide Multimedia.