The Rising Star of Seoul Fashion Week Breaks the Male Model Mold

  • James
  • March 22, 2018
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One of the unique features of Seoul Fashion Week is the sheer concentration of top-flight modeling talent. Current international stars like Yoon Young Bae and Hoyeon Jung got their start here; the men even have their own fan clubs. Yet as the number of new faces climbs each season and model fatigue begins to set in, Seoul’s designers are turning toward a new type of muse, one that combines killer looks with serious substance. Exhibit A: Juno Song, a triple-threat model-stylist-songwriter from London who was this season’s breakout.

Born and raised in South Korea, Song moved to Montreal at age 15, where he picked up his near-perfect lilting English. Despite his strong, sculpted features and constant encouragement from friends, he had no real interest in modeling. “For me it lacked creativity,” he says, sipping an iced coffee between shows. “It’s a job that people do with what they’re born with, so it wasn’t that interesting to me.” Rather, he hoped for a more artistic pursuit: fashion editor, film director, song composer. Three years ago, he moved to England to attend the London College of Fashion, where he is about to earn a degree in fashion styling and production. He shares a flat there with two classmates, an aspiring menswear designer and photography student.

99%IS- Spring 2018

99%IS- Spring 2018

Photographed by Jongha Park

To make pocket money, Song took a job at On the Bab, a cult Korean street food spot in Shoreditch, where he served little seafood pancakes and spicy rice cakes to customers. One of them happened to be a scout for the agency Models 1, who snapped him up and started booking him jobs (the pocket money, of course, was better in fashion than food service). Then, a few months later, he signed with the Korean agency Esteem, which led him to Seoul Fashion Week. Notably, he did 99%IS-’s Spring 2018 show (“You might not have recognized me because I had a mask over my head,” he says, laughing) and lookbook, then returned for Fall 2018 in a blue faux fur coat and iridescent vest. “Even though our style is very different, his [Bajowoo’s] sense is strong and I respect that a lot,” he says. “I can learn from it.”

As a budding stylist, Song references films like Harmony Korine’s Kids and says he prefers simple yet evocative conceptual pictures. “I like when you don’t even show any clothing, but still give off the aesthetic of the brand,” he says, pointing to Shayne Oliver’s shoots for Helmut Lang and Loewe’s Steven Meisel–lensed glossed fruit campaign (“very clever”) as examples. Song’s personal style also skews toward minimal separates and comfortable sportswear from labels like Palace and Alyx, as well as vintage Margiela. He goes thrifting in Brick Lane Market and Camden “like everyone else,” but prefers to buy clothes off the street. “It’s like a pound for a T-shirt, and I’m into those,” he says. Then there’s his special fondness for Martine Rose. “I’m planning on getting a dog when I move back to Korea this year,” he says. “I’m going to get two French bulldogs and name them Martine and Rose.”

Juno Song

Beyond style, Song has also branched out into the music world. He collaborated with the singer-songwriter Jooyoung on his new EP Fountain, cowriting several songs (“He first wanted help with getting the right English slang, like low-key, but it grew from there.”) and styling a recent magazine shoot of the pair for Korean W. “I’m planning on composing, too, though it’s only been a month,” he says. “I’m working on a SoundCloud.”

This versatility is something Korean fashion figures, in particular, are keen to cultivate (often, at the demand of their managers), but for Song it comes naturally. In fact, so does modeling. Posing quietly against the stark metal walls of the Zaha Hadid–designed Dongdaemun plaza, he is captivating on sight—but knowing there’s so much beneath the surface does make for a more compelling picture.

One of the unique features of Seoul Fashion Week is the sheer concentration of top-flight modeling talent. Current international stars like Yoon Young Bae and Hoyeon Jung got their start here; the men even have their own fan clubs. Yet as the number of new faces climbs each season and model fatigue begins to set in, Seoul’s designers are turning toward a new type of muse, one that combines killer looks with serious substance. Exhibit A: Juno Song, a triple-threat model-stylist-songwriter from London who was this season’s breakout.

Born and raised in South Korea, Song moved to Montreal at age 15, where he picked up his near-perfect lilting English. Despite his strong, sculpted features and constant encouragement from friends, he had no real interest in modeling. “For me it lacked creativity,” he says, sipping an iced coffee between shows. “It’s a job that people do with what they’re born with, so it wasn’t that interesting to me.” Rather, he hoped for a more artistic pursuit: fashion editor, film director, song composer. Three years ago, he moved to England to attend the London College of Fashion, where he is about to earn a degree in fashion styling and production. He shares a flat there with two classmates, an aspiring menswear designer and photography student.

99%IS- Spring 2018

99%IS- Spring 2018

Photographed by Jongha Park

To make pocket money, Song took a job at On the Bab, a cult Korean street food spot in Shoreditch, where he served little seafood pancakes and spicy rice cakes to customers. One of them happened to be a scout for the agency Models 1, who snapped him up and started booking him jobs (the pocket money, of course, was better in fashion than food service). Then, a few months later, he signed with the Korean agency Esteem, which led him to Seoul Fashion Week. Notably, he did 99%IS-’s Spring 2018 show (“You might not have recognized me because I had a mask over my head,” he says, laughing) and lookbook, then returned for Fall 2018 in a blue faux fur coat and iridescent vest. “Even though our style is very different, his [Bajowoo’s] sense is strong and I respect that a lot,” he says. “I can learn from it.”

As a budding stylist, Song references films like Harmony Korine’s Kids and says he prefers simple yet evocative conceptual pictures. “I like when you don’t even show any clothing, but still give off the aesthetic of the brand,” he says, pointing to Shayne Oliver’s shoots for Helmut Lang and Loewe’s Steven Meisel–lensed glossed fruit campaign (“very clever”) as examples. Song’s personal style also skews toward minimal separates and comfortable sportswear from labels like Palace and Alyx, as well as vintage Margiela. He goes thrifting in Brick Lane Market and Camden “like everyone else,” but prefers to buy clothes off the street. “It’s like a pound for a T-shirt, and I’m into those,” he says. Then there’s his special fondness for Martine Rose. “I’m planning on getting a dog when I move back to Korea this year,” he says. “I’m going to get two French bulldogs and name them Martine and Rose.”

Juno Song

Photographed by Alex Finch

Beyond style, Song has also branched out into the music world. He collaborated with the singer-songwriter Jooyoung on his new EP Fountain, cowriting several songs (“He first wanted help with getting the right English slang, like low-key, but it grew from there.”) and styling a recent magazine shoot of the pair for Korean W. “I’m planning on composing, too, though it’s only been a month,” he says. “I’m working on a SoundCloud.”

This versatility is something Korean fashion figures, in particular, are keen to cultivate (often, at the demand of their managers), but for Song it comes naturally. In fact, so does modeling. Posing quietly against the stark metal walls of the Zaha Hadid–designed Dongdaemun plaza, he is captivating on sight—but knowing there’s so much beneath the surface does make for a more compelling picture.