Na-be, the Korean word for "butterfly" and the name of Victorya Hong’s fashion line, is the perfect word to describe both the designer and her Fall 2008 collection.
Each needs space and time to spread their wings and fly. Hong, who was recently "aufed" on TV's “Project Runway,” showed her collection for Na-be to an eager New York Fashion Week crowd last weekend.
Describing herself as “a child of the ’80s,” Hong’s collection incorporated elements of this era by mixing menswear-inspired pieces like double-breasted jackets with classic feminine cuts and splashes of fluorescent hues. There were no patterns or amazing detail, and most of the pieces were in subdued hues of white, blue and gray.
At first glance, Hong’s collection might appear too restrained due to its monochromatic tones, minimal detail, simple textures (mainly wool and cotton) and incorporation of masculine cuts.
But the clothes also have elements of fun and sexiness. The Korean-born designer added touches of bright neon hues, satin fabric and belts that cinch the waist. Hong is clearly playing with the fluidity of masculine and feminine characteristics, the fun of dressing up and the sexiness of women’s bodies.
On “Project Runway,” the designers have restrictions on money, material and time, and face extravagant challenges that may conflict with their vision or style. On the show, Hong’s pieces were never flashy (that is left to Chris and Christian); instead, they were always simple and elegant. And the same can be said for Na-be’s Fall 2008 collection.
Whether Hong’s collection has mass-market appeal remains to be seen. While the line's simplicity makes it perfectly tailored for the working woman, I fear that the retro shapes and styles could limit buyers to fans of ’80s fashion. I’ll be curious about what Hong’s future collections hold, to see whether this child of the ’80s sticks with what she knows or is willing to take some fashion cues from other decades.
All in all, Victorya Hong’s collection introduced us to a designer who is trying to break out of the shell a TV show put on her, and spread her own wings and fly.