Fashion Communicator, Kim Sungil

Kim Sungil is a renowned Korean fashion stylist. His senses are sharp, and the heart is warm. Kim is down to earth and always sticks to the basic.

What is the epitome of Kim Sungil styling?
I have a styling principle: I would stay focused 30% on top and 70% on bottom. It’s a trick to make the legs look longer.
What is the most important point in your styling?
Balance! Regardless of colours or materials, balancing is always crucial.
What is his favourite fashion style?
A combination between classic and modern. Classic items look always appropriate with whatever they are matched. Pearl necklaces, white shirts, ruffle blouses, tweed jackets, these are all classic items that should get along well with jeans. Modern elements would become more dignified when classic items were added. On the other side, classic items will bloom when combined with modern elements. These combinations create a unique semblance.
You’ve been particularly fond of projecting a romantic look. What’s the start of your attachment to that particular style?
When I was young, I read a cartoon called ‘The Rose of Versailles’. From the cartoon, I encountered classical styles of western wardrobe design. I fell so much in love with it. It was just so very beautiful. It may be the reason why I often choose blouses with frills and collars that covers the neck.
What are some of your most memorable projects?
Two movies I worked for as styling director: ‘A Moment to Remember’ (2004) and ‘Sayonara Itsuka’ (2010). These movies were blockbusters in romantic drama film category. I styled Sohn Yejin and Chung Woosung in ‘A Moment to Remember’. ‘Sayonara Itsuka’ was Miho Nakayama’s come back film, and was set in 1970s. I worked according to the director’s manual. He wished to portray the stars in 1970’s wardrobes that would still look gorgeous in the eyes of contemporary audiences.
For whom did you work for in the past?
Kim Namjoo for 15 years until now. I’ve also styled other iconic actresses and actors such as Lee Misuk, Yim Jiyeon whom I have worked for since photo shooting for her movie called Human Addiction, Cha Taehyun, Lee Hyori, Um Jung Hwa, Kim Heesun, Kim Sarang, Jeon Jihyun, Lee Youngae, Tang Wei, Nakayama Miho and etc.
Among Korean celebrities, who do you think are best dressers?
Lee Hyeyoung and Kim Namjoo. They have remarkable fashion sense and know well how to maintain balance.
What are the difficulties when you work with top stars for ad campaigns?
Each of them has his or her own personalities and characters. When styling them for a photo shoot, it requires a direction how to portray their images. In advertising, products are the subject matter. To which I should focus whether the product or the model is usually a critical decision. If I would bring up an image of the model more, the products may lose exposure. I should equally bring up the images of the model and the product at the same time. On the contrary, for fashion photographs, I would normally put more weight on the image of the model.
Could you show our readers an example?
I would give you an example for a photo shooting for electronics, a refrigerator for instance. The design of the product was very modern and beautiful, and the model had feminine features. I needed to create an eclectic style that would compromise both. That was my responsibility. A stylist is the one who instills the balance in the set.

1 & 2. With his longtime collaborators, top actresses Lee Misuk and Kim Namjoo.

3. ‘Guibuin’ serves delicious food in a casual atmosphere with wine and beer
4. ‘Paris Salon’, the little France in Hapjeong-dong

What are the items of your recommendation for styling?
A pair of black stiletto, it’s an excellent match for a black pencil skirt, a flared skirt dress and blue jeans. A cool white shirt is also a wonderful item you should consider. It is a classic item and would look good with jeans, or under any pant suits. I always keep several kinds of white shirts and a pair of beautiful stiletto in my office. Gloves are also great items. I keep them in different colours, thicknesses, and lengths. When it seems something’s missing in an outfit, add gloves and it will simply make the look classic and stylish.
Who are your favourite designers?
I like Korean Hanbok designers. Lee Young-Hee Lee and Kim Young-Jin are great designers who make our traditional wardrobes more beautiful. Hanboks compensate to all type of body shapes: Without regards to the shape, round, thin or tall, they make everyone equally beautiful. Designs of Chai Kim (by Kim Young-Jin) are desirable to everyone, not only to Koreans but foreigners as well.
What are your favourite joints in Seoul?
There is a place called ‘Gwibuin’. I happened to know the owner. She is very cheerful. Her uniqueness is nonesuch. She reminds me of Amelie: very attractive, unpredictable and absolutely faithful. I would also recommend ‘Paris Salon’ in Hapjeong-dong. You can enjoy light snacks, aperitifs, wines and champagnes. Paintings, mirrors and frames that the owner brought from France creates an ambiance of an old bar on a street of Le Marais.
Who is your closest friend in the fashion industry?
Park Taeyoon , a make-up artist. He is very talented and smart. He can depict any style that’s required by the photographing concept tout comme il faut. He also understands what models want all so quite sensibly that top models insist working with him. The expression of the skin tones he makes is just so extraordinarily natural.
When do you feel most achieved as a stylist?
I’ve been working as a stylist for a home shopping program in which I had chances to communicate directly with viewers. It’s a good opportunity to learn from actual consumers behind the TV screen. One day, I met a client of mine and realized that she was wearing the items I recommended on the program. Though she was in her sixties, she looked so stylish that I was mistaken as she was in her forties. It was surprising that she actually did as was recommended on TV. I thought it was quite a rewarding experience.