I cringe when I hear "Asian inspired."  I cringe almost as much if I hear "Tribal inspired." There aren't a lot of people who understand the word "inspired" in a true design sense.  And when they are ignorant enough to use terms like "Asian" or "Tribal," or Heaven forbid "Ethnic,"  I know my bp is going to shoot through my designer chapeau. 

When I was in grad school, laying over the drafting table with mechanical pen in hand trying not to smudge the line (the computers in the CAD lab for non-designy geeks,) there was a term coined by my favorite professor:  Put-a-tecture.  It's the designer who didn't understand the underlying structure, theory or concept of a certain style or period of architecture.  Instead, the poor student would browse through architecture fashion magazines and pick out pieces of buildings he liked and "put-a" here and "put-a" there on his -tecture.

Fashion design can be like that.  Take the shiny, cheap silk, embroidered with overused icons - storks, pagodas or Heaven forbid, Geisha - and just make it into something "western," and Voila!  (If I can mix cultures here) there you have some "Asian inspired."  Or, here's something unfortunate from no less of a fashion house than Dior:
All he forgot was the coolie hat.  This is from 2008, not 1988.  Let's do some Amish Shunning of that.

And which part of the 17 MILLION SQUARE MILES of the Asian continent are we talking about?  Hmmmm?

So imagine my surprise, let's make that joyous, ecstatic surprise, when I saw the Spring 2011 collection by Carolina Herrara.  She didn't insult with "Asian" inspired.  It's Korean inspired.  Here's the inspiration:

And here, Carolina Herrara is just flat out phenomenally "inspired:"

I have to say she is not the first one to draw on Korea.  Korean designers have been doing it for awhile.  (The problem with this one, right, is that it may look beautiful to some, but those of us familiar with Korea see something too literal.  Those "gowns" look just like the traditional skirts - but without the tops that go with them, so they look slightly obscene to me!)
Carolina Herrera is the first master designer of international fame to do it and really get it SPOT ON.  Thank you, Cah-roleeena!!  MWAH!


christine oh . said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. love carolina - true genius. i didn't get to see those pics until now because i got your e-mail on my blackberry but now that i see them the only words that come to mind are "amazing" and "inspiring." i feel honored actually! it's so true . . everything "asian inspired" always looks exactly the same. THIS is creativity!

Musings of a Housewife said...

WOW. I love, LOVE that strapless dress. And the one beneath it. WOW.

Mainline Mom said...

WOW. Carolina's collection is truly inspired...and stunning! That strapless dress...I'd wear that in a heartbeat :)