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Lucire: Fashion

On stage Christina Kim, the designer, is also an accomplished concert pianist

A philharmonic fashion sense

Christina Kim, the designer behind Zuzu Kim, blends comfort with confidence, keen to build on the wearer’s own sense of self-expression
by Lola Saab
Photography courtesy Christina Kim


Christina Kim

DESIGNERS, from the most common faces in the industry to the newer names, present their approaches to staying à la mode not just on the runway, but on a daily basis. But the newer fashion designers coming into the spotlight need to blend classiness with a slight twist in order to take over the fashion scene.

Christina Kim is one of those designers who recently introduced her elegantly chic, trendy brand, Zuzu Kim. Her début collection, Concerto, was presented at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York during Fashion Week. Zuzu is Christina’s nickname, an element that adds a personal touch to the brand.

Kim’s stylish and natural look, with a dash of confidence and poise, are portrayed in her collection, elaborating on the idea of dressing not only to impress but to attain a high level of comfort.

The Zuzu Kim brand reaches out to women of all ages.

Kim studied fashion design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As the daughter of the former South Korean ambassador to Saudi Arabia, she travelled and was brought up in a considerably international society. Kim is fluent in several languages and also speaks the language of music, which is a theme that she beautifully incorporates in her new season’s collection.

We sat down with the designer who enthusiastically explained to us how she identifies the idea of fashion and elegance; she also spoke to us about Zuzu Kim, her newly blossoming brand and what it means to her.


Lucire: How does it feel as a new designer in the fashion industry? How did it feel to present your début collection during New York Fashion Week?
It’s one of those “dream come true moments.” I was exhilarated, not to mention exhausted, from days of not sleeping, as I was busy preparing for the presentation. I felt that it came together really beautifully and getting positive feedback from everyone was very encouraging, as well as all the very positive reviews. But at the same time I was also thinking about what I wanted to do for the next collection.


How do you perceive fashion and how would you like to see fashion evolve in the near future?
I definitely think of fashion as being a form of art. It’s a personal reflection of who you are deep inside. What you wear every day—whether it’s a simple T-shirt or a striking dress—is like making a public statement of yourself. It’s a very subtle, visual expression. In general, as a designer, I believe that women should have a certain elegance and a certain dignity and should not feel forced to strip their femininity away completely. They should be encouraged to be an individual and to speak their minds and be made to feel as confident as possible. Of course, for me as a designer, quality, fit, comfort, and timelessness are very important aspects which I try to balance in every design.

How would you define elegance and how should the idea of elegance be perceived in how we dress?
I believe that true elegance is a certain comfort and ease, a peace within oneself. It shows in how a person wears the same object differently from another person. Beyond clothing, it’s a state of mind and I think that when one carries oneself in a certain way and feels comfortable in their own skin, not conforming to trends, it shows in the way they move, in their gestures as well as in their manner of speaking. Their clothes seem to come alive. I think there’s a lot of pressure today from media and pop culture to be drastically different from everyone else, as well as a pressure to conform. But sometimes I think it’s a bit too forced. I believe that true elegance is the most powerful force of self-expression in any given life moment.


Could you tell us what theme revolves around your new season’s collection?
I worked on my branding for over a year in almost complete solitude—researching, observing, and brainstorming constantly. It’s something I’d wanted to do for years; and it became a physical ache that I had no choice but to fulfil. I’m trying to create a brand that mixes uptown with downtown, the edgy with the classical, a passionate romanticism with modern chic.

As a designer and classical pianist, I wanted to fuse certain musical ideas into the brand. It’s something that came from my heart, music being one of the things I love most. I designed a conductor’s coat as well as a tuxedo in which I incorporate a certain edginess. The “orchestra tuxedos” are made from satin-faced Italian virgin wool with a slight stretch, inspired practically for concert artists and of course, everyone else. There are pleats in the back for ease of movement and comfort. The tuxedo pants [are] semi-high waisted with a silk cummerbund attached to it. And the “orchestra tuxedo blouse” has a washed silk charmeuse body with silk organza pleats in the front and French cuffs with a tongue-ring closure at the neck, omitting the traditional buttons. The ultimate silver brocade jacket is another musician-inspired piece. It comes with a matching miniskirt.

Quality is something I don’t choose to compromise on. We all have active lives and want comfort but we also want luxury, which makes us feel special. Each item in the collection is designed so that it can be integrated into a customer’s own wardrobe, so that it can become a part of their ongoing journey of self-expression. I strongly believe that composing an outfit is an art in itself; we do it every day in our own way, it’s somewhat akin to a painter’s composition, a story, “our” story.

Our duty as designers is to help express that personal story by creating a dream or fantasy through a brand and, ultimately, to help cultivate the wearer’s own imagination and their joy of being. •



Lola Saab is Paris editor of Lucire.


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photographed by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images




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