Capture of Youth: Su Lè “Evanescent” Collection

Paint me a picture worth painting: a soon to be graduate of London College of Fashion, Seojung Lee started her career studying fine arts and textiles at a young age. With an emphasis bringing expressive painting techniques into her garments, Lee’s label, Su Lè, deals with juxtaposition of garments through different personalities through the art of unique layering.
Inspired by construction sites and demolished buildings, a wide range of unexpected materials such as resin, oil-based paint, liquid latex, concrete powder, plaster, nail, wax, plastic sheet, cling film and more make their way into Lee’s designs. Traditional elements of Korean costumes, Lee’s heritage, reflect back into her work irrespective of concept for each collection and are noted in proportions, volumes and silhouettes of her garments.

Lee’s latest collection, entitled “Evanescent,” is about the beauty of temporariness. The beauty of instant existence that is to only be captured for a moment before vanishing away completely forever— things that are too vague to remain in one’s thoughts, yet strong enough to leave their etchings somewhere within us. The notion of adolescence when stripping Lee’s work down is incomplete and ambiguous since this point in space and time is where one is not one or another. In between the age of an adult and a child, it is that sweet spot of the process of becoming that Lee takes us to. Lee visualizes the layer of vulnerability that hides under the shell of rebellion in this tender state.

For this purpose, we will strictly examine two of Lee’s looks that highlight adolescence. With a neutral color palette, a cropped jacket featuring black oil-like paint is slapped across an off-white tone. Tailored with an edge, sharpened shoulders give a hard edge. A tan, silk top with an elongated flare sleeve is worn under, highlighting the softness and innocence via texture and neutral tone. Tucked into a maxi skirt in beige, a black, studded belt that forms the letter ‘x’ brings discipline and a bit of bondage. There are however, more twists and turns when we look at Lee’s garments from behind: our cropped jacket is actually elongated and accompanied by two layers of belts in opposing brown tones strap the body in, giving the silhouette a tighter appearance. This was Lee playing with structure and proportion effortlessly. For more familiar silhouettes, a beige maxi dress with an uneven hem features sheer, sensual details. The other side however, features a half jacket and cropped trouser duo in the same oil-like paint splatter pattern. It was the perfect balance of masculine versus feminine.

 The softness of soft, the hardness of hard: Lee demonstrates her understanding of the defiant being within us with the purity of our youth. JENNIFER STEVENS
Photographed by Vasily Agreneko