Here we are in London and the atmosphere here is the most excited I’ve ever seen. There’s a billboard on Carnaby Street that is streaming shows live. Britain’s new Prime Minister, Theresa May, addressed designers last night emphasizing how important fashion is to the British economy. These shows mean a lot to everyone here and this season there is more anxiety than ever. You’ll rarely hear anyone actually use the term “Brexit,” as it has become a term to be avoided among polite society, but fashion designers are very concerned as to how the UK’s exit from the European Union is going to affect them. They’ve long enjoyed the easy travel and exchange of goods across international borders. Fears here are that access to fabrics and, more importantly, international shoppers might take a tumble, hurting their ability to do business.
All that being said, it is a Korean designer who got us up in time for our first show this morning. Eudon Choi has been showing here in London since 2012 and quickly established himself as a front-of-the-week favorite. His style isn’t strictly minimalist nor quite deconstructionism, yet there are plenty of elements of both, especially in this collection. We see a lot of traditional Asian influences in his silhouettes as well. Choi beautifully combines all those influences into beautiful styles that are slowly winning over fans.
Looking at this morning’s collection, though, I was reminded of a saying my grandfather used when seeing someone wearing clothes obviously too large for them: “You could fit a whole ham in there.” Many of Choi’s clothes this morning would qualify as being full enough to hide a considerable amount of groceries. The benefit, of course, is comfort and a free range of movement. You’re not going to feel trapped by any of these garments. In fact, feel free to enjoy the buffet, no one will be able to tell if you down that entire tray of shrimp. The expansive silhouettes are rather freeing if one cares to look at it that way.
Another element in this collection that one notices quickly is the number of loose straps just flying around. In the US, we tend to look at that more as a urban street style element, but that’s certainly not the way Choi uses it. Part byproduct of minimalist design and part Asian tradition, the straps show up in a number of different looks, from the sleeves of a sharp suit with big brass buttons, to a full-length skirt with a loose-fitting top. For all the fullness in the collection, the straps seem to offer the opportunity to bundle things up quickly if necessary, and at the same time provide a motion-oriented aesthetic that encourages one to not merely walk, but dance, twirl, and sway when making their way down the sidewalk.
Choi sticks primarily with blues and lighter versions of tan for his palette. Hems on trousers run high. Flaps on the front of shoes run large. This is a rather different look from what Americans are accustomed to seeing. Certainly, we don’t see much like this wandering the streets of Indianapolis, but wouldn’t it be delightful if we did?
Watching the flow and sway of this collection was fun and invigorating this morning. Perhaps it is time Western shoppers started looking at Asian designers a little more often. We need this kind of diversity both in our wardrobes and on our streets.