SONGZIO is the Korean designer garnering international attention with artful and conceptual designs.

The SONGZIO brand has gone from strength to strength since it’s inception in 1993. Famed for his remarkable ability to create conceptual clothing that is both a walking work of art and an abstract fashion piece, SONGZIO pushes the boundaries of what is possible with the fusion of fashion and art. Alongside his design work, SONGZIO is also an advocate for helping young designer talent make their mark in fashion through his work as the Chairman of the CFDK, where he oversees 300 designers from Korea, developing the fashion industry and promoting the amazing talent and creativity in Korea and the beauty of modern Korean fashion.

Based between Seoul and Paris, SONGZIO made his London Collections: Men’s debut in June, where the SONGZIO design identity and contemporary art influences balanced in perfect harmony with London’s wonderful supportive and engaging energy. For SONGZIO’s spring/summer 2017 collection, the idea grew, in SONGZIO tradition, from one of his paintings. Looking at his artwork “Ocean”, the SONGZIO collection aesthetic stemmed from his memories of summers in Nice, the bright sunlight and the deep blue ocean. Working these colours into his collection, along with the signature SONGZIO black suit, which he international attention for at the beginning of his career, SONGZIO’s SS17 collection is both traditional SONGZIO designs and artful, conceptual, modernist clothing. It’s a conceptual design at it’s most brilliant.

You’ve made your LCM debut! What was the LCM experience like and how did you get involved?

I initially got involved with LCM through the introduction from Mr.Dylan Jones from GQ Uk and Frank Cintamani, the president of Asian Couture Federation. I had a good trust for those two men and what we could achieve as a brand in this new city. As a brand, we thought that our design identity was a great match with both the city London and its fashion week. Indeed, London has long been without any doubt the best city for contemporary art and I thought this would serve as a great basis for our brand in the city. LCM experience turned out to be very exciting, much more so than expected, and I am already looking forward to coming here again next season. Everybody here seemed very energetic, supportive and engaging.

You’re based in Seoul and Paris, so why did you want to show in London?

There are two reasons we decided to show in London from this season. First, our collection is designed for young men and women who enjoy contemporary designer wear: young, modern, stylish, chic professionals. In Seoul, our diffusion brands partially satisfy this mission of ours by having as customers, young professionals. However, we have made it out mission to have as our customers those who truly enjoy style and authentic designs. In meetings this goal, I thought London was a more suitable city than Paris because of its people: dynamic, embracing uniqueness, and open to novelty. Secondly, I am a big fan of contemporary art and it is this form of art that serves as the most important inspiration to me. With this inspiration, our collection seeks to infuse the sensuality of art with the bold modernity of the contemporary world. I feel like London as a city almost shares the same idea as our design identity in that it is a city that truly appreciates its great cultural foundation full of creativity and sensuality yet also fully embracing the modernity of this ever changing world.

How did showing in London differ to showing in Paris?  

The people I felt were the most different. I didn’t realize it until I came to London, but in Paris, the whole process behind preparation of the collection and its presentation seemed quite formal and perhaps a little solitary. Here however, everyday during the fashion week seemed like a continuous party with such great level of energy, excitement and engagement from everybody. London reminded me that fashion was a fun business.

What was the starting point for your SS17 collection? 

As always, our starting point for this collection was my painting, Ocean. Every summer, I am reminded of Nice where I used to spend my summer in my youth. The bright sunlight and the blue ocean together produced all spectrums of color and shined beautifully almost like diamonds and never ceased to mesmerize me. As it was my first time showing my collection in London, I wanted to have something I knew everybody would find beautiful and who doesn’t love the Mediterranean ocean.

Your collections starts with the visualisation of ideas on a canvas using oil paint – how does this help your design process? And how connected do you think fashion and art are? 

For designers, everything we see whether they are new or old serve as sources of new ideas. What’s difficult is visualizing all these unorganized ideas. If all these ideas are translated straight into products/clothes, many things are missed out and it is difficult to come out with a truly coherent collection. By first visualising everything into paintings, it allows me to stay true to the concept of each collection. I am not a fine artist and I do not pride my paintings as a true piece of art, it is however an instrument I use to organise my thoughts and to produce the conceptual core of my collection.  

What are some of SONGZIO’s key design elements? 

The ‘crossing strokes’ in the print pieces is the SONGZIO signature print. The vertical strokes represent the subject and the horizontal represents the emotions (a man and his dream, young lovers and love, the visible and the invisible). SONGZIO’s designs center around layering the designer painted art print fabric with modern and delicate design and silhouette. From the inception of the brand, SONGZIO’s key color is black with our signature product the black suit (not necessarily the formal suit). Our designs play with fusing the modernism of the black with the emotional strokes of paint. Much of our details and silhouettes emphasize sophistication and delicacy. In terms of look, the Brand’s signature look using both print and modern details is what we call “cross look”: tight and fit top (jacket) with voluminous bottom (trousers). This cross & contrast fit/cut/silhouette is the brand’s signature look, whereby we want people wearing our clothes to have a different kind of walk, with the concept of “New Walk”.

Tell us about your PAINT ON BLACK concept? 

“Paint on Black” is the all inclusive phrase that explains our signature style and look: infusing sensuality of art and modernity of black.  

You’ve been recently appointed Chairman of CFDK – what does this role entail and what is so exciting about Korean fashion?

CFDK oversees over 300 designers in Korea from casual to avant garde, junior to senior and commercial to conceptual. As the Chairman, my role is to help build and develop the fashion industry here and the necessary infrastructure for the designers to thrive both in Korea and overseas. From hosting international fashion fairs to collections in Seoul, we do all we can for the fashion industry here. Recently, Korea has been getting increasing amount of cultural attention particularly with K-pop, and I think it is a great time to also promote the tremendous level of creativity in Korea and K-fashion.

Annabel Lunnon

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