«It’s about rearrangement and reconstruction». Kimhekim represents the new couture wave as a young designer braids past and future Korean sensibility into clothing
Kimhekim. Meet the brand transforming hair in haute couture
Why would someone dress in hair? «Why not? Why wouldn’t someone dress in hair?» Kimhekim is a Korean brand founded by Kiminte Kimhekim, making hair the new star fabric with his latest Obsessions (Hair Chronicles) collection.
But there is more to untangle in the story of the young designer, fostering an innovatively fragile aesthetic, where bows and leather can coexist in a spontaneous marriage. Thirteen years have passed since Martin Margiela operated with wigs to realize the SS09 Coat, still exhibited at The Met Museum.
The designer playing with discarded objects and materials made a fashion statement about true couture, where the knowledge and mastery of craftsmanship attribute the final value to a garment. Kiminte is the youngest designer to be part of the ‘Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode’, stepping on the traces of Margiela, aiming to elevate every piece to couture-level results.
Reminiscence of the time spent braiding his cousin’s hair during childhood, Kiminte spent over two weeks mastering the appropriate technique that would transform wigs into carefully constructed collector pieces. «My collection distinguishes in the sense that it’s about rearrangement and reconstruction», explains Kimhekim, depicting some of his central values.
In a hide-and-seek game, between long fringes covering the eyes, hats turned trenches, and huge lensed eyewear, it makes sense that the most primordial textures and protection tissue would transform into the next IT Coat.
«I went to an old wig store located north of Seoul with my assistant. As we were exploring, we surprisingly found a lot of hair pieces the owner didn’t even know about and brought them to our atelier, starting braiding and giving it shape».
Descending from Korean royalty. Kimhekim’s background and story
Inspired by Azzedine Alaia’s tailoring and dresses, Kimhekim’s fascination comes from the designer’s knowledge of «making a women’s body look beautiful» when eventually, the fashion goal is to shelter not only the ego but the spirit too.
Impressed by how Alaia’s pieces were feminine yet powerful, he carves a brand with the allure of unadorned sensuality. A body of clothing relying on the intuition of playful, refined disguise. Often discarded from everyday habits, the act of playing lays at the foundation of the brand.
Creating barbie doll clothing with his grandmother, Kimhekim felt drawn to participate in the act of dressing women and decorating their lives. «I was born to be a designer as I simply followed my instinct and the passion for this industry».
First in his class, he moved to France, transferring from ESMOD Seoul to ESMOD Paris, the city where he found a home for the eponymous label.
After attending Studio Bercot and interning at Balenciaga under Nicolas Ghesquière, the young designer quickly bathed in prestigious experiences where he could develop his style. Contaminated by Cristobal Balenciaga’s late archives and shaped by the meeting with artisans preaching their craft, Kimhekim evolved into a rising streetwear couture brand, on the verge between cultures and timeframes.
Kimhekim and the Ancient Kingdom
One can sense a daunting link with the past in some creations, while the sight remains on future innovations. «I used to hate our annual family tradition of visiting the royal tomb of King Kim Suro and his wife Heo Hwang-ok (The Indian princess that came to marry the King). But I started to realize the beauty of this ancient kingdom as I grew up».
Tells stories of heritage and bloodline, Kimnite is the descendent of a Korean Royal Family. There’s even a movie about his progenitor, Kim-Su Ro, The Iron King. Transgressing traditions and habits, Kimhekim returns to the essence of his cultural aesthetic climate bound to decorative art.
«I especially love the art pieces they made since it is so fancy yet minimal. This coexisting duality can be found in many pieces, such as their golden crowns, celadons, and horse-riding equipment. My collections are still inspired by this charm».
Fluid Chic and gradual femininity. The new womenswear vocabulary
Pearls, tweeds, and heart prints on jeans, sunglasses, and t-shirts are the highlights of Kimhekim collections, and between Obsessions, Her and Him, love is the common thread.
«My favorite love story is The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde. The plot of the story revolves around the statue of a prince who was once a real prince. The prince was unaware of the injustices and sorrow of the commoners during his lifetime. But he witnesses all the sorrows and sufferings of the people after being placed high above the city. He decides to sacrifice his life by asking a swallow to distribute all the treasure in his body to the poor and needy. I love this story because although it’s sad, it’s happy at the same time and it warms my heart».
Love yourself first is one of the principal mottos of the brand, pushing sentiment through fabric. Jet-black hearts over see-through dresses, like playing poker with a princess, and it’s time to bet all your ex-boyfriends away. Long gowns, oversized waist bows – suddenly, you’re the gift that keeps on giving.
However, the SS20 couture tunic with a giant imprinted heart might be a red flag on the first date. Organza is the pillar of Kimhekim collections, reminding him of the moments shared with his grandmother teaching him how to sew traditional hanbok pieces as a child.
Tailoring for Kimhekim encompasses balanced and calculated asymmetry, while the logo obsession vanishes under willy-nilly stapled etiquettes on shirts and suits. Having fun with the ensembles and footwear styling, mixing boots or beoseon-inspired socks with sandals gives color to the looks.
Revisiting cautionary hype. The new generation of couture streetwear
Kimhekim is quirky, funny, is heads above the clouds-clumsy in a seductive and provocative way. The designer plays with Parisian wit in the style of satire, creating elegant looks exaggerated by exaggerated proportions.
In other collections, he reiterates the mini white dress, making it a must-have item. Who knows when you feel like spontaneously marrying the hottie from the metro? A harmonious intersection between streetwear and couture revolves around attitude «since style depends on one’s intention for wearing an outfit. If you want to wear couture, you can even turn a basic hoodie into a couture dress».
Precisely what Kimhekim does- turning suits into bohemian ensembles, headpieces in oversized theatrical headwear to save you from undesired conversations – great for bad hair days or bad everything days. Printed denim, overalls, and tops are among the items to obsess over, alongside pointy flats and a monochromatic state of mind eluded by soft and poetic hues.
With an eye on the back of the canvas, searching for hidden beauty, the garments memorialize the outcast facet of fashion. Whether we’re window shopping or shopping online, we’re used to always seeing the front of a design, losing sight of the back. Kimhekim cleverly readapts the classic suit, making it his own through details like metal circles holding its back in a resizing pursuit.
Kimhekim excels in taking emblematic fashion codes, already impregnated in customer conciseness, from Margiela’s deconstructed hair pieces, or Chanel inverted black and white shoes, to Balenciaga tailoring-and reorganizing them to become his own. It creates a feeling of familiarity while being immensely personal and disruptive. For the upcoming collection, denim becomes the protagonist of upheaval.
«I’m always observing my surroundings and keen to notice elements that catch my eye. As for this season, I found Levi’s denim at the market and immediately began developing the collection.
Kimhekim comes from the full last name of ancient royal family in Korea symbolizing the era of golden kingdom. The brand joined as the Korean youngest member in La Federation de Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM), presenting its collections at Paris Fashion Week