Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Design by Christine Phung


The buzz was loud way before Christine Phung’s show Tuesday on the first day of the latest Paris Fashion Week. Couture experts were predicting an innovative autumn/winter 2014-2015 ready-to-wear collection, and Phung did not disappoint.

Phung evokes snow
She told journalists that she created a character around which to base her collection – “that of a girl from a mountain on a dark night, under a canopy of stars”. So it was that the first model who strutted out on the catwalk was dressed in Alpine-type gear, wearing goggles and carrying a pair of skis on her shoulders. The equipment was provided by Rossignol. The clothes were all Phung.

Using cashmere wool, with appliqué patterns, the designer shared her fantasy of this character who “weaves through the trees, cloaked in powdery snow … dazed by her own speed (but) aware of the elements around her – rock, snow, ice, stars, the forest itself”.

It was nearly enough to make one forget that the fashion show was taking place on the second floor of Galeries Lafayette’s “Maison” (home) store, with a wooden runway and wooden benches.  Even if the techno music by Camille Desprès didn’t much bring the mountains to mind, Phung’s designs certainly did.

The vibrantly colored cashmere, digitally printed silk, and woven jacquard were incorporated into sleek cuts, and at times the garments were detailed with crystals and gems to evoke the elements.

Phung's goggles say it all
The materials were meant to symbolize different things: the shimmering gems represented glistening snow, the woven jacquard embodied the snow-covered slopes, and the printed dresses were the “wild flames” of the character’s imagination, according to Phung’s description.

The young French-Cambodian designer also experimented with different colors: blues, maroons, and oranges, along with black and white. The color combinations were striking but did not clash: one design comprised a woolen jacket with blue, grey, maroon and white, worn with orange stockings and simple black heels. Other designs had the more usual hues, and instead emphasized the appealing cut of the clothes.

It was an impressive first day of Paris Fashion Week, with other designers also determined to shine.  


Moon Young Hee's simplicity
Earlier in the day, France-based Korean stylist Moon Young Hee made use of an art gallery on Place des Vosges, in the trendy Marais area of Paris, for her show.

The mood was set with a pared-down remix of Suzanne Vega’s hit “Tom’s Diner”, evocating … well, space and art somehow. As a few spectators tapped their feet, the models emerged, enrobed in thick wools, tulle netting, gauze, and velvets.

The colors were minimalistic: black, white, brown, and blue; the cuts however, were not. Flowing pants, layered coats, and scrunched sleeves. The designs reminded one of Comme des Garçons, but a subdued version.

Each model’s hair was loosely pulled back and tied at the very tip with their own winding strands, which looked effortless yet elegant. The accessories were marginal; the same black creepers on every model, although some of the outfits had accents of crystals.

The collection could be described as slightly gothic, somewhat masculine, and inventively shaped. If some of the models looked pregnant, it was in an entirely fashionable way. - J.M. De Clercq & L. McKenzie

Above: blue dress by Moon Young Hee, and colorful dresses by Christine Phung. (© De Clercq)