Korea's Fashion Leaders

Who are the most influential fashion icons in Korea in 2011? The Chosun Ilbo asked 32 fashion experts to name five celebrities in politics, business, sports, culture or entertainment in any order, and came up with a representative list.

◆ Kim Yu-na

The 2010 Olympic figure skating champion was the undisputed No. 1 with 15 votes. Respondents said Kim has been an influential figure in fashion for quite some time since whatever she wore always sold out instantly. But it was the clothes she wore at the final presentation for Pyeongchang's 2018 Winter Olympics that made her an unbeatable fashion icon.

But some pointed to Kim's slightly conservative dress sense, saying she seems unwilling to break with convention and take the risks her slim figure would allow her to take.

From left, Kim Yu-na, Lee Seo-hyun, G-Dragon, Kong Hyo-jin, Lee Boo-jin, Lee Kun-hee, Kim Yong-ho, and Hong Jung-wook From left, Kim Yu-na, Lee Seo-hyun, G-Dragon, Kong Hyo-jin, Lee Boo-jin, Lee Kun-hee, Kim Yong-ho, and Hong Jung-wook

◆ The Lee Family

The influence of the Samsung family was keenly felt in fashion, as the second place with 10 votes went to Lee Seo-hyun, the second daughter of Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-hee and vice president of textile affiliate Cheil Industries. Her father and older sister Lee Boo-jin, the president of Hotel Shilla, shared fifth place with five votes.

Lee Seo-hyun was praised for her modern fashion sense, which sets her apart from many other daughters of chaebol families, who merely display ostentatious labels and big jewelry. Lee, by contrast, pulls off avant-garde styles with uniquely patterned materials. That her company plays a dominant role in the fashion world was also factored in.

Lee Kun-hee was praised for daring accessories such as handkerchiefs, cravats and scarves. Lee Boo-jin's innovative and radical choice of materials rather than color also garnered praise. The respondents' choice reflects the influence of the Samsung Group on the entire fashion industry, and the desire of the public to emulate fashion style of the rich and famous.

◆ G-Dragon

G-Dragon, the leader of boy band Big Bang, was named as the biggest fashion leader in showbiz with nine votes, which placed him third overall. The experts praised him being unafraid of a provocative look, and noted the adulation he enjoys from teenagers and those in their 20s.

◆ Kong Hyo-jin, Lee Hyo-ri

Among women in showbiz, actress Kong Hyo-jin and singer Lee Hyo-ri came in fourth and co-fifth with eight and five votes. Kong's innocent and somewhat bland look in fact highlighted her fashion sense. Experts said she can wear almost anything and still look great. By contrast, Lee is "a true trendsetter who transformed people's view of what looks sexy," according to one of the experts.

◆ Kim Yong-ho

A surprising entry was photographer Kim Yong-ho, who despite his relative obscurity came in fifth with five votes. Kim usually sports black and white, and was praised for his innovative use of classic items. His influence in the fashion industry through his photography naturally also played a role.

◆ Politicians
In politics, Grand National Party lawmakers Na Kyung-won and Hong Jung-wook made it into the top 10 with five and four votes, respectively. Na shared fifth place, and Hong eighth.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 25, 2011 13:48 KST