[Part of Vancouver-Istanbul fashion sister cities coverage]
Hong Kiyoung is why I love fashion. Because occasionally a designer makes evident zeitgeist ideas/ideals with a clarity that challenges utilitarian view of clothing. Every fashion week has (or should) a collection that defines its conceptual momentum. This fall-winter season a South Korean couture import reclaimed Vancouver as a historical intercultural transcontinental maritime gateway. This city is defined by transit. However, “About the Road” was more than a fitting show title. There is true artistic alchemy in Hong Kiyoung’s work which makes his self-attributed “luxury street wear label” description somewhat deceptive. This is fashion+ …. It wrestles with stark urban confrontations: pursuit of freedoms and limelight against realities of poverty and homelessness. We are a restless class. Globalization and Internet upended the very notion of being On-The-Road. And how does that Jack Kerouac’s postwar epic resonate in our times when terrorism emerges as a state of its own? How do beatnik narratives that spun coast-to-coast inform our rage/protest often confined to #occupy virtuality? And yes, all of that IS in the discretely bullshit-branded garments, the faded earth color palette, the pairing of oversized pieces with items tailored too-short/tight, the outer pockets containing inner emptiness, the paper and plastic accessories. Sure, you can tell me I’m reading too much into this. And I can tell you that dressing an epoch takes a visionary of a generation. I leave you with a definitive/cliché Kerouac quote: “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn…” Hong Kiyoung is that/my kind of mad.
Hong Kiyoung’s poignant collection is a stark departure from the happy-feet wanderlust of QuirkBox we saw in Mumbai. It takes all kinds, y’all. It takes all kinds! Follow Hong Kiyoung on Instagram and Vancouver Fashion Week on Facebook