Every now and again you get to be a part of something special.
Maybe you were there the night the Red Sox turned it all around and won their first World Series in 86 years. Maybe you were at the first Woodstock. Maybe you were in Chicago to join the celebration when the United States elected their first black president. Wherever it is, we all know that feeling when you step out of your body for a fleeting moment and think to yourself: my God, what have I just witnessed?
It’s not often that a fashion show gives me goosebumps, and to be quite frank, I certainly wasn’t expecting such a show last night at the Korean Cultural Centre for the unveiling of a new London based menswear brand: A. Hallucination.
I was a bit nervous about the event – given that my invitation came via a comment on my blog. I arrived to a beautiful space with the boyish models trying to master their catwalk techniques and poses before the masses (hopefully) arrived. As it crept towards showtime and the number of guests could still be counted on one hand it looked like A. Hallucination would be entering the cruel world of fashion not with a bang, but a whisper… thank goodness I was wrong.
Things started to come together and build up speed as we moved beyond the scheduled start time. The guests began to arrive in throngs of beautiful young people (primarily of Asian descent), flyers were passed around and I struck up conversation with the young woman next to me. As it turns out, this young lady was a good friend of the designer and they had worked together for Alexander McQueen. She told me of her adventures working for John Rocha, life as a designer, and all about Hwan the perfectionist. What a treat.
Close-up on seamless sleeved for two-toned dress shirt
Hwan Sung Park graduated from Central Saint Martins a couple of years ago and enjoyed stints with McQueen, Tom Ford and most recently Burberry. Probably after a bit of soul searching (and with a bit of luck) Park decided to start a label with his young friend Chung Chung Lee. And I cannot tell you how glad I am that he did.
The show went off without a hitch, save for a few moments of insecurity from the young models. My mouth was literally left gaping as the men paraded down the catwalk in immaculately stitched suits, quilted capes, and duffel-coat vests looking very much the part of “London dandy.” On display was some of the finest mens tailoring I have seen this side of Savile row… no doubt a product of the fact that Chung Chung Lee gained some of his experience at Ozwald Boateng. The sillhouettes were classic London menswear: skinny and clean-cut. The materials were perfectly selected, the attention to detail unbelievable and the execution both stylish and precise
Backstage Look at Mens Duffel Vest (with Hwan Sung Park in background)
To really appreciate the quality of this clothing it had to be seen up close. There was no doubt the clothing was attractive, but was it of good quality? I have seen many samples in my life (hell I’ve even paid for some), but in all my years I’ve never seen such high quality samples. Every stitch was in place, every seam carefully planned, and every bit of fabric soft and hand selected. Sometimes perfectionism is not a vice but a virtue.
It is always said that we are impacted from where we have been and the experiences we have had. Never has this been more accurate than in the case of Hwan Sung Park. It was as if this young man learned his creativity from Alexander McQueen personally, the tailoring done with Tom Ford’s hands and the palette and inspiration carefully selected from the ghost of Burberry seasons past.
A. Hallucination Mens Sleeved Cape
The perfectionism of Hwan Sung Park could be seen in his disappointment after the show. He seemed deeply troubled by the way it had gone: the minor delays and a few missteps by his models. However, this launch was beyond reasonable expectations for anyone’s first show. The garments were so impressive that surely no one noticed these minor hiccups anyhow, and even if they had they won’t have cared.
No one can predict the success of a brand or a designer. It is common place for a designer to go bankrupt more than once before achieving success. But, as in business, it is the stubborn, the persistent, and the perfectionists among us that reach the pinnacle of success.
The only suggestion I might make about how to improve upon the launch would be a simple message to Hwan: smile a bit more, you’ve just started something special.
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