He looks every bit like a Korean star. While he is no K-drama actor, Lee Chung Chung is a rising star in the fashion industry in Korea.
Son of Lie Sang Bong, a renowned Korean fashion designer whose designs have been worn by celebrities such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, Chung Chung has big shoes to fill.
Growing up being immersed in the world of fashion with his father’s office as his “playground” as a kid, Chung Chung had initially thought he wanted to be a teacher but the pull of the fashion world and his father’s influence was so strong, he eventually found his way back and studied Art & Design at London’s Central Saint Martin’s College.
Today, he owns a womenswear label called LIE after dabbling in menswear for a few years after graduating from college.
LIE, which stands for “love, identity and ego”, is a ready-to-wear line that offers women of all ages accessible luxury fashion through which they can “feel special, confident, happy, beautiful and comfortable with themselves”.
“I design for anyone who wants to express themselves. My designs are dedicated to all independent women. I believe that clothes are no longer just daily necessity for warmth, protection or to hide bodies. It is a door to communicate and to share your thoughts and identities,” explained Chung Chung.
His pieces, available at local multi-label store SocietyA, are full of innovative designs and details. For his Spring/Summer’18 collection, expect lots of ruffles and pastel shades.
With hopes to become the creative director of his father’s brand in future, Chung Chung is now focussed on growing LIE - and growing it well.
But with such a strong fashion heritage, it is no wonder the designer, in his 30s, has big dreams for both brands. He currently has a hand in helping out with the PR and Marketing aspects of Lie Sang Bong.
In fact, he wants LIE to be so big that he is not afraid to be unconventional when he put 69-year-old Maye Musk on his runway at New York Fashion Week last September.
Want to know more about this budding young Korean fashion designer? Read the full interview below.
Your father is also a designer, do you feel like you have to live up to expectations?
My father always taught me about working hard - that you must have passion, effort, courage. I really respect what he says because I saw him working like that. I cannot be like my father because we are different but I want to make a good brand in Korea and internationally.
Why did you switch from menswear to womenswear?
Honestly, it was due to sales. It was difficult to find buyers for menswear. But it is one of my dreams to do womenswear. I want to be the creative director for Lie Sang Bong in the future so starting out with LIE is a stepping stone for that.
What is your dream for LIE?
I want to make Lie Sang Bong and LIE like Prada and Miu Miu - from same company but different brands. I want to make them international brands. (Lee is involved in the PR and Marketing of his father’s brand, Lie Sang Bong.)
What was your childhood dream?
I wanted to be a scientist. But when I grew up and went to university, I applied for a course to be a teacher because I wanted to avoid the designer’s life as I didn’t have much time with my parents as they worked together. So I got into university, but I realised after a year that I’m not that kind of person to be a teacher. Because my friends are different - they work hard, study hard. So I thought I can’t live a 9-6 life. So at that time, I would think about what I could do in the fashion industry with my father’s brand as I grew up with the brand. My playground was his office, playing with fabrics and hugging the mannequins.
My first course in Central Saint Martin’s College was Art and Design. Through the course, I realised I wanted more. After I graduated from that course, I got into a course for Menswear so I started to be a designer.
You want women to feel special, confident, happy, beautiful and comfortable with themselves through your designs but how do you do that through your piece?
I believe women have different kind of beauty and individuality. For my SS18 collection, my collection theme was “Perfectly, imperfect” - and I created “I M Perfect from “imperfect” on some T-shirt designs. With that, I want to say that all women are beautiful and perfect, even though they are imperfect. I like to put a twist to my collection. And individuality is the most important thing.
I always check with my customers and team (some of whom are women) on how they feel about the designs - how does the fabric feel on the inside. We have lots of competition in the fashion industry so I always think about having a balance between creativity and business (they must be wearable).
Tell us about your SS collection.
The first inspiration was the cherry blossoms in the park. Every flower has different stages so I got some ideas from there. So I used some elements from flowers and mixed up all the fabric and silhouettes. For the runway, I used different types of girls - girls of different skin tones and attitude. And 69-year-old Maye Musk was the opener for my collection, wearing the T-shirt ‘I M Perfect’ - that was my message. She’s perfect.
What is one thing you want Singaporeans to know about you or your label?
I really want more Singaporeans to be able to express themselves through my collection.
What is a day in the life of Lee Chung Chung like?
I sleep around 2am so I “hardly wake up”. I take the subway to work, eat kimbap with spicy sauce to wake myself up. I reach the office around 9am for my meetings with different teams. My days are full of meetings and I hope to have more hours for designs. Regularly, I finish work at 7.30pm (sometimes) or I work more at 10pm or 11pm. Then when I get home, I grab a bear, watch some sports on TV then I fell asleep on my couch, sometimes.
I don’t have a hobby nowadays. I like skiing or doing summer sports but I don’t have time. So I destress with by singing, dancing or going drinking with my friends.
What is your mantra for success?
Passion, effort, courage. Important keywords learnt from my father.
Who is your fashion inspiration?
I respect all types of designers. Paul Smith can do good commercial work with twist in ideas. Alexander McQueen is really creative. In the same way, when I look at celebrities or regular women, I get different ideas from them and I’m surprised by how they style themselves in different ways. Like sometimes, I meet my customers in my shop and I find they wear my clothes interestingly. It really inspires me.
What can’t you live without?
My family. Alcohol. Double espresso. It is how I enjoy life now. Work hard and have a good time with the family.
Any upcoming projects?
I’m have some pop-up stores in Dubai and Lebanon. One in March and another in April. Another pop-up store in Osaka in June.
And a new flagship store to open in Chungdam, Korea in April.
LIE is available at SocietyA, located at #03-14A, Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Ngee Ann City, Singapore 238873.