A commentary on Korean global business and popular culture.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Andre Kim--The Passing of a Korean Fashion Icon
Several weeks ago, I was in a discussion with a senior executive for a major Korea-based global company on the recent recognition South Korea has gained as the Asia-Pacific Design hub. I was asked to provide the names of some leaders in Korean design. One name immediately came to mind--Andre Kim. A creative force, he will be missed...
Andre Kim at Gala Opening of Songdo Convensia, 2008
Andre Kim eulogized for pioneering spirit People bade their last farewells to longtime fashion icon, Andre Kim, who was laid to rest Sunday, three days after he died at the age of 74. His death is no doubt a great loss not only to the fashion industry but also to the entire nation. Although he has passed away, he will remain in the hearts of Koreans forever. Needless to say, Kim was a great pioneer in fashion design. He became the country’s first male designer in 1962 when the profession was still considered a female realm. He held his first fashion show that year before opening “Salon Andre” in central Seoul. He also became the first Korean to stage a fashion show in Paris in 1966. Kim enjoyed popularity not only within the fashion circle but was also adored by the public. He created a unique, even eccentric, style for himself, wearing heavy black eyeliner and all-while outfits. His drawn-out tone of speaking was often parodied by many comedians. His greatness lies in his creativeness in realizing the beauty of fashion through his designs. He always pursued his dream to be a designer who dedicated himself to combining Western fashion style with Korea’s traditional values and beauty. Kim was lauded for making ceaseless efforts to introduce Korea’s unique fashion to the world. He held many fashion shows overseas to publicize the Oriental motifs of his design, allowing him to gain international fame. He was often described as Korea’s fashion ambassador. He never failed to use key international events such as the Seoul Summer Olympic Games in 1988 and another Summer Olympics in Beijing 2008 to show off his design works. Kim also held shows in high-profile venues such as Angkor Wat, Cambodia, and Egypt with the pyramids as a backdrop. He also devoted himself to donation campaigns for poor children and adults in need at home and abroad. It is no exaggeration that Andre Kim had a tremendous impact on the fashion industry as well as on culture, lifestyle, construction, manufacturing and many other sectors. He was awarded the Presidential Culture and Art Medal in 1977, the first of its kind for a designer. In 2000, he won a cultural ward from France. President Lee Myung-bak bestowed a posthumous medal on Kim. Now, he is gone. But he left a great legacy behind him. May he rest in peace and his spirit never fade away.