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Looking back at a lifelong journey creating fashion
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2017-10-20

Looking back at a lifelong journey creating fashion 

: Rubina is being honored during Seoul Fashion Week with an exhibition that celebrates her cultural impact


[korea joongang daily]


Hera Seoul Fashion Week 2018 Spring/Summer started on Monday and the honor of opening the country’s largest fashion event went to Rubina, a designer whose vast archive of clothes are on display in the exhibition halls at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in central Seoul until Nov. 12. The exhibition, titled “Endless Journey,” features works from 38 years of her life as a designer, a journey that has taken her down paths she had no idea would be taking in her earlier years.

 

“I had experienced everything as a top model, a singer and an actress, and there was nowhere else for me to go,” said Rubina in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily. “Fashion design was a path that I took as refuge from my life. I started later than others, without preparation, so I had to work twice as hard.”

 

Upon seeing her tall figure and glamorous looks, one may easily think of the fiery redness of a ruby jewel, but the name Rubina is the name that she was given when she was baptized. The designer’s birth name is Park Sang-sook. Rubina graduated with a degree in classical ballet from Sookmyung Women’s University. What appealed to Rubina at the time, however, was the charm of the modeling world.

 

Rubina first debuted on the cover of a magazine named Yeohaksaeng, which translates to “female student,” during her high school years, when a photographer came to her school and decided to use her photos instead of the student the school had recommended. “After the magazine was published, I received hundreds of love letters from all over the country,” recollected the designer. “I visited my aunt every weekend, and boys from the nearby high schools would swarm in to see me.”

 

Rubina’s exhibition, “Endless Journey,” is an archive of the designer’s 38 years in the fashion industry, featuring over 160 pieces. [RUBINA]

She officially entered the fashion industry after she dropped by the studio of the late fashion designer and professor emeritus of Ewha Womans University Bae Chun-bum as a university student. When word got out that the beautiful model was also a talented guitarist, a TV producer at MBC got in touch with the rookie model and asked her to be on a program called “Debut Stage.” The program, which exposed new singers to a large audience, turned out to open doors for Rubina’s career as a singer. She went on to release two albums over the next four years.

 

“I think I was the only singer who would smoke and sing on television,” said Rubina. “I think that came across as rude to the adults. I found out later that the then president Park Chung Hee saw me and said, ‘What is that, get rid of it.’ I was pulled off the program immediately.”

 

Rubina’s talents didn’t stop there, however. She was well known among her peers that she had decorated her apartment in a classic European style, and professor Bae introduced the place to movie director Simon Sheen. The very next day, Sheen sent Rubina a copy of the script he was working on, and she became the lead role in his movie, “Yeohyeongsa Marie” (Detective Marie). 

 

“Back then [after the movie], I thought about what I liked to do the most. I thought about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and it was making clothes,” said Rubina. In March 1980, she opened her first studio. Ever since then, she has been living the life of a fashion designer, and the exhibition is dedicated to showing the long journey she took.

 

“I actually like traveling,” said the veteran designer. “Seeing as how I like traveling and clothes, I must have been a gypsy in my past life. In the end, I think our life is a journey in itself. I tread the path that I choose, but sometimes that leads me to new places and new experiences. At each point, I mature bit by bit. In the way that they’re both incomplete, life and journeys are the same. I’m taking that path with fashion, the love of my life, and it’s something to be really grateful for.”

 

Across nine sections at the DDP’s Design Pathway, visitors can see 160 pieces of Rubina’s past works. From old frames that the designer has been using for years, to a tunnel of fabric designed by herself, to decades-old mannequins, the exhibition crosses the lines of art and fashion, and takes the visitors to a new realm.

 

“Looking at Rubina’s clothes, you can imagine all kinds of delicate hand movements needed in making clothes,” said Seo Young-hee, creative director of the exhibition. 

 

“She’s nicknamed the ‘queen of details,’ because she’s created such a diverse array of designs, and I wanted to show the results of her creativity and effort to the audience.”

 

“I’m going to jump over to Prague, my favorite traveling spot,” said the silver-haired designer. “Then I’m going to come back recharged, and write a detailed book for young people to learn from.”

 

BY SEO JEONG-MIN [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]


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