EENK brings the Wild West to Paris Fashion Week

This Western-inspired collection brings the genre into a global perspective.


Korean designer Hyeme Lee showcases her Spring/Summer 2023 collection at the EENK Womenswear show at Paris Fashion Week. (Nikkala Kovacevic for WSN)

Nikkala Kovacevic, Staff Writer

Designer Hyemee Lee has moved away from her typically metaphorical collection themes, like “T for Temptation” and “U for Utopia,” and moved more into history with her take on the American West. “The Letter Project,” Lee’s current set of collections, focuses on a letter of the alphabet that represents a keyword or theme. Last season’s “V for Vintage” featured the Korean designer’s take on 80’s glam, focusing on the geometric silhouettes and structure the era’s fashion had to offer. The latest installment, and next letter, is “W for WWW,” or W for World Wild West.

Located at the Palais de Tokyo, this season’s show took a step away from glam and opted for a more rustic and industrial setting. Model and singer Carla Bruni kicked off the show with soft and sultry vocals paired with an acoustic guitar. Bruni then began strutting down the runway as the first model. She directed the audience’s gaze toward the front of the room as models began to pour in from an adjoining chamber. 

The first looks felt classic. They embraced warm tones of orange and yellow, with corsets and belts all of which matched the expectation of the canonized Western seen in films, like “High Noon” and “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”. The looks shifted to cooler tones and denim, introducing deep necklines and some looser silhouettes. Soon Bruni’s vocals began to quicken, the guitar adopting a more brassy and sinister tune as models draped in bright red ensembles began to maneuver their way through the winding runway. 

The monochromatic red looks brought a certain crescendo to the show. While they still played with the aestheticism of the West, especially in the use of tassels and boots, the tonal shift felt like a personal statement from Lee. The importance of the “World” aspect of World Wild West to Lee is to incorporate her global perspective into an already established genre a genre that many don’t realize has an expansive and international impact. 

“The mystique of the Western frontier represented by the Gold Rush Era, the Jazz Age, the Belle Epoque and the Roaring Twenties has captivated our imagination from the Far East into a collection of optimistic freedom and spectacle of great adventure,” Lee said. 

As the looks progressed into leather and fur, the statement that Lee’s perception of the West is as much an aspect of it as the films and histories of American media rang true. Ending with a set of pieces made entirely in black and white, Lee’s designs evolved more into a deconstruction of the Western image. Finishing looks such as a fur cowl-neck dress lined with tassels simply displayed the most defining aspects of the West, and for Lee, the features that fueled its mystique.

Contact Nikkala Kovacevic at [email protected].