Tailoring Takes A Turn For the Obscure in Moon Choi’s Specimen 19

Through the courtyard of the High Line Hotel and up a candle-lined staircase, you’ll find a room covered in wooden paneling and neo-Gothic architectural detailing. This is the room Moon Choi chose to unveil Specimen 19, her version of a SS19 collection. The NYC-based, Seoul-born designer is best known for her skills in tailoring, which have earned her acknowledgments such as a Designer of the Year in Womenswear finalist as well as sponsorships from Jason Wu Fabric, 3.1 Phillip Lim Leather, and The Shoe Polytechnic.

Choi’s tailoring skills took a turn for the obscure this season; the young designer realized that tailoring is an art that can be quite rigid, so she aimed to push the boundaries and test her creative skills within the confines of tailoring. She explained that her SS19 work represents a cabinet of curiosities, which is typically a collection of oddities, obscurities, and the unconventional, put together to show the beauty in the unusual.

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For the presentation, models were set on display as if in a museum, stood behind ropes and arranged next to pieces of furniture and sculptures. Demonstrating Choi’s renowned tailoring abilities, the clothing pieces ranged from linear jackets and blazers to exquisitely draped dresses. Each item showed both angular tailoring and ethereal yet exquisite elements with a slight touch of eccentricity. An excellent example of this was an all-white ensemble starring a waist-length jacket with a double lapel and boxed shoulders, met by a large belt with draped fabric, and long, asymmetric pleats.

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“Tailoring is a difficult skill to find a balance in, it doesn’t typically allow a lot of freedom, so in the process of designing, I tried to find a balance between a well-designed suit and architectural details,” Choi said. In her search for balance, the designer created pieces that are wearable for both men and women, furthering her mission to blur boundaries.

“This collection shows a study of materials and the process of designing and explorations,” Choi said. “The whole presentation theme goes to a cabinet of curiosities, even down to colors. The earthy, natural colors [throughout the collection] reflect that idea of the cabinet of curiosities, because it’s gives the sense of preservation.”

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