Lee Young-Hee

Young-Hee, Lee

Lee Young-hee (1936-2018) was a South Korean fashion designer. She worked on designing hanbok, traditional Korean clothes, to raise awareness of traditional Korean dress in the Western world since the early 1990s. Then, she launched a fashion label in Paris. She had an alternating path in French fashion. In 1993, she became the first designer, along with Lee Shin Woo, to participate in a ready-to-wear show with her hanboks. Young-hee opened a boutique in Paris the following year.

Lee Young-Hee 1
Some traditional hanboks designed by the designer

In 1997, she began to prepare her succession, leaving the reins to his young daughter and creating, together with her, a joint collection. The style looks to Asian traditions, mixing bright jersey, satin leather and transparent veils.

In 2003, the designer donated 12 hanboks to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, hoping to open a gallery dedicated to South Korea. This happened in 2008. The designer then had to design a wedding hanbok for the Smithsonian, adding all the various ornaments. In 2004, the Lee Young Hee Museum of Korean Culture opened in Manhattan. Here hanbok parades and exhibitions of traditional Korean culture take place.

Among the various personalities the designer has dressed are several Korean first ladies, such as Lee Soon-ja, Kim Ok-sook, and also Kim Yoon-ok, wife of the Prime Minister in office from 2008 to 2013.

In 2009, the designer wrote an autobiography Hanbok Designer leaving for Paris. In the book she states “I learned philosophy and my life through hanboks.”

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