Andrew Kwon enters his evening wear era

Kwon has extended his work beyond the aisle with “Reverie,” his first evening wear collection.

Maureen Zeufack, Contributing Writer

Under the bright flash of rapidly firing cameras and atop a plush red carpet, Korean American designer Andrew Kwon debuted his third collection “Reverie” at the Baccarat Hotel for New York Fashion Week. The 2019 Parsons graduate’s past two collections — “Reminiscence” and “Dreamer” — featured couture bridal wear, making Kwon’s Spring/Summer 2023 line his first evening wear collection.

The showroom took place in the hotel’s interior Petit Salon, which, as the name suggests, was a little cozy. The hotel wall’s impressive dark oak paneling was embossed with scroll engravings, rosette appliques and leaf carvings. Upon entrance, guests were met with grand piano overtures and classical violin symphonies.

“This music feels so cinematic, I feel like I’m in a movie with an important scene where the main character needs to put one of these dresses on,” an attendee said.

In the center of the room, a vase filled with flowers — white calla lilies, vibrant blue delphiniums, gorgeous white peonies, among others — sat upon a large square table. A personal note from Kwon, signed AK, was delicately arranged on each side of the table. He spoke about how his first series of evening wear bridged “the fantasy with reality.”

Kwon and his team ran a bit behind schedule, with the showroom finally opening about thirty minutes later than the intended noon start time. Fortunately, “Reverie” was well worth the wait.

The collection embodies opulence — Kwon’s signature tulle tiers on short, flouncy dresses and floor-length gowns. Poofy shoulders, grandiose bows and shimmering tulle met velvety sleekness, whimsical capes and peplum tops in an innovative twist.

A watercolor-like ombré piece with 3-D florals, another signature detail of Kwon’s, mirrored the sky’s natural progression — moving from a sandy brown to a burnished black-gray. Another pink pale lattice a-line dress with an organza shawl-like top transitioned into a majestic train.

Kwon, a Colorado native, shared his early interest in breaking into Hollywood. “Reverie” is emblematic of a dream realized for Kwon, whose past two collections have remained in the bridal space.

“My earliest memory was watching that Chanel N°5 commercial with ‘Clair de lune’ playing with Nicole Kidman,” Kwon said.

Kwon was referring to “Le Film,” a 2004 perfume advertisement directed by Baz Luhrmann that is known for its displays of grandeur within a short Hollywood love story. These visuals became an inspiration for his line and his future. Although Kwon may not have been able to debut into the industry with a red-carpet-ready line, his curtains are finally up.

“You don’t see a lot of Asians on the red carpet,” Kwon said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be an actor to be a part of the red carpet but I think this is one way where I really wanted to go in on that.”

Having dressed Asian American figures such as Arden Cho of “Teen Wolf” and rubbing shoulders with Ashley Park of “Emily in Paris,” who attended one of his bridal trunk shows at Bergdorf Goodman, it’s evident Kwon is acquiring celebrities to share the brand’s vision.

Amid mannequins were a trifecta of live models, including Patricia Zajacova, Nadal De Vries and Anika Hartje who helped to bring the dresses to life, as if they were Herculean muses. Simple slicked back buns, rosy blush and natural makeup allow the outfits to truly shine.

A standout piece from the collection was an ankle-length gown of shimmering silver fabric that was as incandescent and luminescent as a disco ball. It was accompanied by sleeve-length fingerless gloves reminiscent of the ones worn by Rihanna in her internet-breaking Council of Fashion Designers of America Swarovski crystal look in 2014.

Hartje, an IMG model and a 2020 NYU Gallatin graduate, wore the gown standing confidently with her hands on her hips, statuesque and glamorous to show off the jaw-dropping back of the dress. Exposed boning at the lower half smoothly transitions back into the shiny fabric of the magnificently long train and an oversized drooping bow.

“[I love] the Hollywood glam of it all,” Hartje said. “I feel like I could be walking on the red carpet in Cannes or Venice … it’s giving Marilyn [Monroe] but also like it girl.”

Kwon’s favorite dress from the collection is surprisingly one of the simplest — a long sleeve floor-length velvet, black gown with a low turtleneck and structured shoulders, which shows just a sliver of skin below the bust line with little pairs of circular crystals going along the opening leaving little windows of skin. Kwon pays homage to Nicole Kidman’s iconic commercial for AMC Theatres with this mermaid silhouette gown, gushing about its sleek modernity.

“That’s the one that I connect the most with that Nicole Kidman commercial,” Kwon said. “I love the modernness of it, combining it with the cool little edge [on the cuffs], almost like a tennis bracelet in a way.”

He proudly stands by it for a photo, wearing an all-white, loose-fitting suit with an accent sash belt with a hint of black.

Andrew Kwon poses next to a mannequin in a black dress.
Andrew Kwon showcases his Spring/Summer 2023 collection. (Manasa Gudavalli for WSN) (Manasa Gudavalli)

“Reverie” is an impressive display of modern meets traditional charm. This marks a new chapter for Kwon that doesn’t leave behind his bridal past. I highly suggest you keep the name Andrew Kwon in mind because something tells me his red carpet dreams are not so far away.

Contact Maureen Zeufack at [email protected].