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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ooh, ah! Andre Kim show dazzled senses

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

Models sashayed in brilliant tones of green in Andre Kim's fashion shows at Turtle Bay Resort and the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Seoul-based designer Kim used a rainbow of dramatic colors and silhouettes.

JEFF WIDENER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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White is the signature color of fashion designer Andre Kim. The visionary Seoul, South Korea-based designer always wears white from head to toe, in clear contrast to European and American designers such as Georgio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld and Calvin Klein, who are never seen in anything but black or other somber neutrals.

In another nod to individualism, Kim ignores the fashion designers' penchant for being rail thin by emphasizing his broad shoulders with quilted details on a bold shirt jacket and cargo pockets bulging at his thighs. He even wears a wide, white cummerbund, seemingly a cumbersome accessory. But perhaps his most surprising accessory is a broad smile. What? No sultry, sulky attitude?

Kim gave Hawai'i two opportunities to see his work last week. He brought his fashions to the Turtle Bay Resort for a private show connected to the SBS Open (and utilized four LPGA players to model his creations) on Tuesday night. On Wednesday at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom, Kim's fashions were the centerpiece of a major fundraiser for the University of Hawai'i-Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources apparel product design and merchandising program which also served as part of the 20th anniversary celebration for local television station KBFD. K-drama stars Shim Jee Ho ("Stained Glass"), Kim Min Jung ("Fashion 70s"), and Hawai'i favorite Jeong Joon Ho ("The Twins," "Marrying the Mob") appeared in the show (even staging forehead-to-forehead romantic "scenes"). (See KBFD general manager Jeff Chung's K-drama column on Page D10.)

"Fashion Fantasia in Hawaii" was a cacophony of color and shape. Kim's color combinations and layering were unexpected, vibrant and eye-popping. His silhouettes were dramatic. His details and embellishments were richly glamorous.

The highly theatrical presentation, brought to life by Korean models and actors as well as a few fortunate local models, was a roller coaster of atmosphere, mood and lighting. Drum rolls and spotlights opened the show, followed by segments featuring an eclectic mix of techno-accented pop, hard rock, New Age, classical and lounge music.

The opening sequence was a nod to Kim's signature white, with long evening coats of diaphanous layers of organza floating over a mix of sexy see-through tops, tulip skirts, cigarette pants and prim suits. The effect was a surreal fantasy of light and shadow.

Male models dazzled in all-white as well, in textured suits with creative lapels and other details paired with pants that draped like sharkskin tucked into white boots.

The first color to appear on the runway was gold, and glimpses of gold glittered throughout the show. Bold gold appliques and trapunto details floated on organza, tulles, silks and brocades. The details took on the glow of gold leaf on pagodas shining in the sun when placed on purples, turquoise and carnelian.

Kim's silhouettes seemed unlimited, from demure and wearable 1940s-inspired suits to dramatic ball gowns stitched from dozens of yards of fabric that would probably not make it through most doorways without compromising the sculptural shape. Tulip skirts and tiny fitted jackets were ubiquitous, a nod to trends we're seeing among all the designers for spring. Trim 1950s-style feminine dresses with prim skirts and clever appliqued boleros shared the runway with over-the-top Carmen Miranda-like ruffles and roses.

An audacious lime-green collection elicited gasps of pleasure from the audience. They were simpler in silhouette than most of Kim's other designs, featuring sporty hoodies with the designer's name emblazoned on the backs. Kim paired the men's hoodies with white cotton sateen pants and cargo pants tucked into the ubiquitous white boots.

Among the most stunning color pairings were chartreuse and kelly green, purple and gold, burgundy and rust, emerald and turquoise. Many of the colors were layered over one another for a romantic effect. Sometimes, multiple layers of chiffon or organza were lifted to reveal a little glimpse of another surprising color.

While men's clothes often seem like an afterthought in a fashion show dominated by women's fashions, Kim's trim suits drew applause from both men and women. Chinese-inspired brocade dandy jackets, military blazers with epaulets and asymmetrical tight-to-the body three-quarter-length coats were among the men's fashion statements.

Kim employs subtle references to the Korean hanbok. Oversized bell sleeves, side ties and short flared jackets harken back to the traditional attire. The strong juxtapositions of color is also characteristically Korean.

The hairstyles, created by Aveda Salon and Spa and Liberty Salon, were sculptural statements. Hair was parted on the side and slicked down, embellished with rows of braids wound around the models' heads.

Kim's show offered his trademark edge-of-the-seat drama and attention-grabbing couture and special effects that kept the audience entertained through a parade of 140-plus garments. Even Gov. Linda Lingle and Mayor Mufi Hannemann stayed until the dramatic wedding finale, which featured seven unique gowns and a groom who finally got the bride.

One oddity could not be overlooked. In fact, it was among the most talked-about subjects of the evening: Kim's hair or more accurately, head. Kim paints his head black from his receding hairline to his forehead in a signature look that is bold and hard to ignore. It's one more idiosyncratic statement from a one-of-a-kind South Korean personality.

Reach Paula Rath at prath@honoluluadvertiser.com.