In the mood of Lie Sang Bong: 'Paris lingerie gave me culture shock'

 To celebrate Paris Fashion Week (February 28-March 7), Relaxnews presents a new feature, "In the mood of..." quizzing designers on their style secrets and sources of inspiration. Ahead of his March 7 presentation, we enter into the world of Korea's Lie Sang Bong, who premiered his eponymous line at Seoul Fashion Week in 1993 before debuting in Paris in 2002. Here the designer, who counts Lady Gaga and Rihanna as fans, explains why you won't ever see him in wide-leg pants and recalls the underwear-related culture shock he experienced upon arrival in Paris.

Relaxnews: What in your opinion is the most essential accessory and why?
Lie Sang Bong: I believe that a handbag is the most essential decorative item that women carry as it contains their most valuable and private items.

R: Which item of clothing would you never allow into your wardrobe?
LSB: It may sound funny for me to say I'd never allow some items in my wardrobe, since I am a designer who makes all kinds of clothes and loves them, however, there are some items that I'll never put in my wardrobe: wide-leg pants, and puffy coats. Honestly, I love designing those kinds of clothes, but I don't think I would ever be able to pull them off well.

R: Which famous person, dead, alive or from fiction, would you most like to feature on your runway?
LSB: I've always been very lucky to be able to feature some of the great people who inspired me to do certain collections throughout my career as a fashion designer. Most of them were famous people, celebrities, and artists who have either walked on my runway or performed. The reason they were featured was because they had something to do with that collection. It could be the theme or the muse.

It's hard to pick one since every collection is inspired by different motifs and feels very special to me. But of all the people, I would say I thought Kimera, a "Popera" singer, was one of the most fascinating people that has ever been a part of my show. Kimera has a worldwide reputation with Popera and had a strong mysterious-yet-glamorous imagery. She was transformed into a beautiful flower and an alluring goddess as she walked on the runway with my specially-designed coat for her.

R: What career path would you have followed if you hadn't become a designer?
LSB: I've always been interested in literature, music, and theater. I was actually an amateur actor before becoming a fashion designer. If I hadn't become a designer, I believe I would have still followed a path as an actor. If not an actor, then maybe another professional job that involves acting. Sometimes I also think I would have been a script writer for plays, movies, or books. 

R: Which song do you most associate with your Fall/Winter 2012 collection?
LSB: For this upcoming Fall/Winter 2012 collection, several genres associate well with the theme of the collection. For example, music with a fast beat that gives you the feeling of time travel, or a slow and heavy song that reminds you of walking alone in the darkness with one stream of light that comes from a streetlight. Also, moody music that makes you think about your past, present, and even about your future.

R: Cast your mind back, what did you feel the very first time you set foot in Paris?
LSB: I can recall the colorful displays in the boutique windows; this struck me more than the peacefulness of the Seine River, or the beauty of the Eiffel Tower. I, myself, prefer black and achromatic colors, so the colorful tones of red, yellow, green and more from the Paris shops just awakened me. It was a long time ago...

In addition to that, I almost experienced culture shock when I first visited the "prêt-à-porter" trade show exhibit. It was at the underwear exhibit, (until then I had only seen one or two very not-sexy national brands of underwear in Korea)...I just could not act normally. During this trade show, all the models were wearing sheer underwear, and the models didn't mind and they were posing for the buyers even though they came up close to them and were even feeling the texture of the underwear. Now I guess it's normal for all the models, no matter where they are from, but back then it was so different.

Throughout these great and meaningful experiences that Paris has given me, whenever I encounter difficulties, hardships, or dream about nightmares, I think about the energy that Paris gave me to become a better designer. And that powerful energy holds me up and keeps me motivated and passionate about fashion, even to this day.

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