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Madonna says to ‘Express yourself.’ Son Jung Wan agrees

Son Jung Wan’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection mixed ’90s edginess with modest minimalism, venturing into futuristic space-glamour.

Feb 13, 2023

Designer Son Jung Wan’s namesake brand — among the leading fashion ventures in South Korea — took center stage at Spring Studios, a coveted venue for any designer, on Feb. 11. Son’s newest collection invited attendees of the second day of NYFW to revisit the ’90s. A flier on each seat read the intention of her collection, which Son described as celebrating “the ironic attempts of quintessential ’90s fashion trends with futuristic elements and closed with a dash of glam.”

A model walking down a runway lit with orange light, wearing a silky white, sleeveless top, a long black skirt with a slit and cream boots.
Son Jung Wan, Fall/Winter 2023 Collection, New York Fashion Week. (Shirley Zhang for WSN)

The beginning of the show embodied that sentiment, opening with a padded dress, faux fur pink sleeves, gold sequin shorts and Madonna’s voice echoing through the speaker. All the light New York City had to offer flooded into the studio, and the gallery was cast in a deep orange glow. 

Apricot crush and galactic cobalt — a few of the featured colors — shone bright enough that they blinded camera lenses as each model sauntered forward and faced the crowd. Though their colors were bold, the pieces weren’t overdone. There was something modest in the combination of jarring color and slim cuts paired with a variation of black-and-white pump boots — the designs’ unifying element. 

A model walking down a runway lit with orange light, wearing a fluffy blue jacket, a sparkly black long dress, cream boots and slicked-back hair.
A model walking down a runway lit with orange light, wearing a form-fitting pastel purple jacket, a fluffy purple short skirt, cream boots and slicked-back hair.
Son Jung Wan, Fall/Winter 2023 Collection, New York Fashion Week. (Shirley Zhang for WSN)
A model walking down a runway lit with orange light, wearing a form-fitting white coat, a sparkly long skirt, cream boots and slicked-back hair.

The pieces that indisputably held true to Son’s minimalist legacy were the final nine. Cream coats, black skirts, and white sleeveless gowns, despite their simplicity, were the outfits that appeared the most striking.

“It’s the perfect combination of very current but still beautiful and chic,” actress and model Brooke Shields said. “And that’s not easy to do.” 

Backstage, wearing pearl earrings and a shirt whose hemline spells her name, Son was all smiles. In the hushed room, a sign read, “NO SOCIAL MEDIA,” and it ensured all eyes were on the designer’s tiny frame.

A model walking down a runway lit with orange light wearing a knit, light blue top, a holographic mini skirt, a fluffy purple jacket, cream boots and slicked-back hair.
A model walking down a runway lit with orange light, wearing a sparkly orange top, a long sheer orange skirt with a slit, cream-colored boots and slicked-back hair.

Time was tight for an interview mediated by her translator, but upon hearing a compliment for her newest collection, Son dipped her head forward. 

One can find a universal language in Son Jung Wan, in black-and-white pump boots or in Madonna songs, if nothing else. The audience’s grins at the end of the show said everything that needed to be said.

A photo of a wooden table with three cards on top. Each card features an illustration of a model with long, curly black hair walking down a runway, looking back at the camera and wearing a long flowy white skirt and a black top.
Son Jung Wan, Fall/Winter 2023 Collection, New York Fashion Week. (Shirley Zhang for WSN)

Contact Kaja Andric at [email protected]

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