Fashion and beauty come together seamlessly to form a power duo at Seoul Fashion Week.
The Centaur fall/winter 2018
It is a cold, crisp spring morning in Seoul as I make my way down the curved slope of the futuristic, Zaha Hadid-designed Dongdaemun Design Plaza. This is my third time at Seoul Fashion Week and yet, the frisson of excitement in the air that accompanies the opening of every fashion week is unmistakable. With its heady mix of high-wattage celebrity and fashion royalty, Seoul Fashion Week is undoubtedly the crown jewel of the Asian fashion week circuit, and has the ability to spark trends in the region faster than you can double tap on Instagram. But the true trendsetter for Seoulites, as I discover, is luxury cosmetics and skincare brand HerA, the official title sponsor of Seoul Fashion Week since 2015.
Nowhere else in the world is the relationship between fashion and beauty more tightly interwoven than in Korea, which is home to the eighth largest cosmetics market in the world. It should come as no surprise then, that aside from providing direction for the season’s runway makeup, HerA also inspires fashion designers in Korea through its cosmetics. And as I take my seat for the fall/winter 2018 shows, it strikes me that the colours the designers have been using reflect the colour palettes of HerA’s makeup for the upcoming season. Coincidence? I think not.
Heading backstage last year, during the spring/summer 2018 edition of Seoul Fashion Week, I spoke to Kyu Yong Shin and Ji Sun Park, the creative minds behind Blindness, one of Korea’s most progressive fashion brands, to understand more about the relationship between makeup and their own fashion design process.
“We’re fashion designers, so our priority is the clothes,” Shin explained. “Our clothes are mostly very flashy. But HerA focused on a cleaner expression for the face this season, so we took inspiration from HerA’s makeup scheme. This season, we covered the face almost entirely and just used [the] simplest base makeup for the models.”
He added, “even our clothes—though we initially wanted to stick to the style we had presented in our previous collection, so that we could establish our identity more firmly—took inspiration from the cleaner palette that was shown to us by the makeup brand.”
To truly understand the power of HerA, one has to look at its history to grasp the impact that it has made. Launched in 1995 by beauty conglomerate AmorePacific, the brand quickly dominated the K-beauty scene with its range of innovative products, which span makeup, skincare and a popular men’s line within three years of its launch. What is even more impressive is its list of accolades: In 1999, it overtook Chanel to be named the most-preferred brand by Korean customers in a brand equity survey, and has consistently ranked first in various Korea Brand Power Index lists for its female cosmetics and skincare ever since. In fact, to get an inkling of just how sought-after the brand is, it has been famously reported that one unit of its UV Mist Cushion is sold every two seconds.
“Our company’s vision is to be an ‘Asian Beauty Creator’, and we pay very close attention to the Asian market to see which country will best suit our brand,” says Ken Lee, HerA’s Global MarketingTeam Leader. “As a result, the second overseas market we chose is Singapore.”
With HerA finally launching in Singapore this May, the excitement among local tastemakers who have long heard of the fashion-forward cosmetics brand is palpable.
Nicole Wong, founder of creative agency NPLUSC and a fashion, beauty and lifestyle influencer with more than 64,000 followers on Instagram, enthuses: “HerA has been on the frontline of Korean beauty since the beginning, and they are the perfect mix of luxury and trendiness.” We are getting ready for another day of shows at the HerA boutique in Seoul’s trendy Cheongdam fashion district and she’s swiping on the metallic lip gloss from HerA’s Secret Party collection, whose packaging is designed in collaboration with French artist edith Carron. “I love how they dare to play with colours!” she exclaims. “But back to what we were talking about: I’m really excited that they represent the modern woman who is daring and respects the value of inner beauty.”
Later, as Lee and I are sitting in the car heading to our first show on the last day of fashion week, we pull up outside the curving steel facade of Dongdaemun Design Plaza, now emblazoned with the HerA Seoul Fashion Week logo. “We want women in the world to see what a ‘Seoulista’ really is: Fervent, trendy, and one with attitude. We want to share the beauty that a Korean woman possesses with the world,” he says. With that, we are quickly swept up once again into the frontrow whirl of fashion week—leaving me intrigued and thrilled to see what HerA can bring to Singapore.
From top: Blindness spring/ summer 2018. JARRETT spring/ summer 2018. KYE spring/ summer 2018. Miss Gee Collection spring/ summer 2018.
HERA’s famous Cell Essence hydrates your skin and fights the effects of ageing.
Cell Essence, $80, HERA
This popular cushion foundation uses a proprietary distribution system to create a flawless complexion with a natural glow.
UV Mist Cushion Ultra Moisture SPF34/PA++, $68, HERA
A luxurious lipstick with a formulation that glides on easily and maintains its rich colour.
Rouge Holic Exceptional in 333 Passion, $46, HERA