Hyun Yi Lee Editorial for Korea Marie Claire, October 2008

Hyun Yi Lee, the latest model to come out of South Korea, is steadily climbing up the ranks of the international fashion scene. After signing with Major Model Management in the US earlier this year, she appeared in 9 shows (can someone confirm that?) during her first season in New York City. Last month during the Spring/Summer 2009 season, she walked in 14 shows including an important opening spot for NY-based designer, Koi Suwannagate. In addition, she scored a big coup when she was listed as one of the up-and-coming models of the season in L’Officiel France magazine in May 2008. Added to her expanding portfolio are two Korea Vogue covers (May 2008, July 2008) with Han Jin and Daul Kim and recently, a solo cover on Korea Marie Claire (Oct 2008).

A lot of comparisons have been made on the careers of Hyun Yi Lee and her compatriot, Hyoni Kang, who won the Ford Supermodel of the World competition in January 2008. Both girls came on to the international scene at the same time. With her title, Hyoni Kang received a one-year ($250,000) contract with Ford Models and has since been living in New York City with occasional trips to Korea for fashion shoots. Hyun Yi Lee, on the other hand, is still based in Seoul, Korea and only comes over to New York City and Europe for work purposes. Because of that, Hyoni Kang has appeared almost exclusively with NY-based publications while Hyun Yi Lee appears mostly in Korean magazines. [N.B.: I think Hyoni Kang’s Supermodel of the World contract does not allow her to work (too much) outside of NYC except during fashion week because her agency won’t get as much money if she booked jobs through other agencies in Europe and Asia.]

Aside from the different career paths, both girls also have very different looks. Hyun Yi Lee has a more distinctive look — lean and tall with the most amazing neck in the modeling industry, in my opinion. Her face and body are more suited towards high fashion editorial work. Hyoni Kang, on the other hand, has that classic Teen Vogue and Elle Girl look that appeals more to mass retailers and will therefore, do well in that market.

The future trajectory of both models remains to be seen as the next season approaches. Hyoni Kang will be giving up her title as Supermodel of the World in January 2009 and may lose the solid representation of her agency. Ford Models will undoubted keep her on their roster but the agent who supervised her career will have a new girl to groom and push out onto the international scene. Will her new agent be as successful as the one currently managing her? Hyun Yi Lee will probably continue to be represented by Major Model Management (unless a bigger agency comes along and pouches her away) but to what end will Major Model put its resources to push her career to the next level. Only the future can tell.

Now, let talk about the wonderful editorial below. I love the mood of the entire set here. Hyun Yi Lee did an excellent job conveying the darkness and the mystery of the clothes without losing herself in the photos. I mean, it’s about the clothes after all but the model still needs to look like she’s there in the photos. I have seen so many editorials where the crazy clothes and makeup eat up the model until there is nothing left of the girl to look at. [Example: see Han Jin’s editorial for (British) Another Magazine, Fall 2008.] Conversely, the models can also be so distracting that nobody looks at the clothes anymore — this happens a lot when magazines use Hollywood celebrities instead of professional models. Yes, Anna I’m talking about you.

That said, my favorite shots in the editorial have to be Photos #2 to #6. Hyun Yi Lee’s facial structure is simply spectacular — she can cut fabric with her cheeks and chin. I have to admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of hers when she appeared on the scene during the Spring/Summer 2008 Fashion Week in New York City. The designers she walked for did not know how to use her body and height so she ended up looking like Big Bird on Sesame Street. But she definitely looked great on the runways this season. And she is one of my favorite new models right now. I’m really excited to see where her career goes from here on out.

Model: Hyun Yi Lee
Editorial: The Dark Knight
Magazine: Korea Marie Claire, October 2008
Photographer: Zo Sun Hee

Source: DCM Models

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