I think this was their 08′ January issue.
Lee Soo Hyuk’s story has just begun
He’s strangely good-looking. His face is masculine (this guy is quite handsome) or feminine (Wow, he’s beautiful too), none of what people usually say is enough to capture entirely the impression Lee Soo Hyuk’s face gives.
While I wonder if I should talk about space or an incantation, the word “fascination” quickly comes across my mind to sum up my overall impression. It seems I’m not the only one captivated by him. Lee Soo Hyuk became the so-called “best-looking” male model on this land.
He’s now 20 years-old, he has no agency or a manager to give him the connections to get work.
“As far as I can remember I’ve always liked clothes.” When he was in kindergarten, if he liked one pair of shoes, he’d keep nagging to have them. When he was in junior high, he spent almost of his allowance on clothes and fashion became “something natural” to him at some point.
Toward the end of high school, Dior Homme by Hedi Slimane happened. The slender fit that got people wonder if it was sadism from Hedi Slimane who made many men laugh and cry was a blessing to Lee Soo Hyuk.
“I’d ask a favor to a friend when he went to Japan or I’d searched the internet. Now, a lot of clothes are fit for my body type, but back then I used to hear people whisper around me and say things like “look at these pants on him”.”
When asked if buying clothes using his allowance wasn’t beyond his capacity as a high schooler, he snickered with a large smile “since it was almost nagging…”.
These big-hearted parents are like friends to Lee Soo Hyuk who got Dior Homme brought to him through his nagging. “Honestly, there are people who don’t like the idea of a boy wearing make-up and think it’s dressing up, they had a positive opinion and believed in the work I wanted to do,” he explains.
With the support of his family, Lee Soo Hyuk was able to express himself through the clothes he wore, yet he had no thought about being model. On the contrary, his long-time dream was to be a movie actor. “I didn’t start modelling to get my face known in order to become an actor. I just carefully knocked on the door because I had a thing for fashion.”
He who had never officially learned how to walk like a model went to visit a galaxy of fashion designers for men like Jung Woo Joon, Seo Sang Young, Kim Seo Ryong, Choi Bum Suk. Without even going through the audition process, he’d call personnally their workshop, saying he’d like to meet them. He’d secure a meeting and meet those “teachers”.
“When I think about it now, I still don’t know where I found the courage to do this. They were also confused and uncertain, but I was lucky to find at least one outfit in every collection and be able to be on stage.”
This is how Lee Soo Hyuk made his debut two years ago on the runway and started having people talk about him. After the second collection he took part in, “as soon as the show was over, I was asked if I could be a part of the show the next day. I thought to myself this was the first time people recognized me.”
Starting on the runway, his career naturally filled up with magazine photoshoots, with more people recognizing him, being fascinated by him, whispering around him and his name being spread on the internet. What secured his status as a model was Jung Wook Joon’s “Lone Costume” lookbook. In order to advance in Paris, designer Jung Wook Joon used this lookbook for the 0708 F/W collection instead of a mere photograph collection. It exceeded everything with Lee Soo Huk as the simple subject. It was filled with eloquent pictures displaying his expression full of his unique energy and his nonchalant pose.
Especially the chapter he worked with photographer Kim Hyun Sung leaves speechless and even inspired the idea that Lee Soo Hyuk couldn’t be put any higher and if it wouldn’t be meaningless to take new pictures of him.
“The fact that I was able to give a lot of my input made this photoshoot even more interesting. For instance, the half-shaved hairstyle is a style I took a good look at when I was in England. I thought it would match the concept, so I made the suggestion to Jung Wook Joon-seonsaengnim. He said he really liked the idea, so I boldly shaved my head. I also did the makeup on my own. While discussing the poses with photographer Kim Hyun Sung, I could feel like it was my own thing. Although I’m very young, their thoughts and my thoughts matched which is something I’m so thankful for, even when I think about it today.”
Because Lee Soo Hyuk is strongly attracted to things with a gloomy and out-of-place (“ssen”* in his words) aura, this is what suits him, minus the basic, sporty image. For instance, it’s hard to picture a tanned and grinning Lee Soo Hyuk among the well-built men of Abercrombie and Fitch. Somehow, people let go of this “painting” image expected from him, but isn’t there a chance that every fashion style of his be organized within this “painting” concept? I made a tentative guess as I carefully asked if he wasn’t facing this kind of limit. He waved his hand in a respectful way.
“I’m still building up my image. If we focus on how I want to be perceived, I want to show various images. As I want to be an actor later on, I also hope to become someone who can express vibes of all kind. I don’t think too hard about this. As you already know, I’m still twenty. Taking my time to think about it will be enough.”
Oh, my! That’s right. To such a hasty judgement about his peak or his limit, his age already implies so many possibilities, Among these countless possibilities, there’s one I’m already curious about: his overseas advancement. When Hedi Slimane was in charge of Dior Homme, Lee Soo Hyuk was really into his clothes, but he almost didn’t know if he’d stand on this stage.
“In London, there is a clothing store run by a Japanese person. The manager of this store was looking for a few models. This person said he’d introduced me to Dior Homme, but I was preparing for the college entrance exam, so my parents said I’d go for the next season and I gave up. Of course, at that time I didn’t know how it would have turned out, but I had this kind of opportunity.”
He went to London not long ago. He made the first step of his overseas advancement as he walked the runway for the KOMAKINO collection and the London collection of Korean designers duo Steve J & Yoni P who are known in Korea and also work with top shops. He added the good news that he even signed a contract with a Parisian model agency over there.
“I wondered if my looks or my image wouldn’t fit Milan, but I felt satisfied with Paris. The stage I want to be on the most in Paris is for Dior Homme and Raf Simons. I’ve always wanted to go abroad. Even if it’s for work, I wanted to try to taste the lifestyle over there. Then, I don’t know. Going through hard situations like communication problems, I was worried if I’d be able to express myself well. I plan to go to Paris when spring comes, I don’t know if I’ll change my mind because I don’t want to rush things.”
All through the interview, Lee Soo Hyuk methodically chose the words he spoke with his low voice. “What is young is young, if my thoughts are not organized, in interviews, it turns into this thing is like this, this thing is like that and I always struggle to speak. I don’t know enough yet… It’s hard for me to define something. Sometimes it’s good to leave to curiosity things we are curious about.”
Sure enough, he didn’t do well in interviews until now, but there were many things that weren’t published because these stories had never been heard during interviews. Just like his speech, Lee Soo Hyuk didn’t make a fuss in front of the camera. As the toy in the hands of the quiet and determined kid receiving care through his solemn gaze, he hovered in front of the lens with a calm energy like a kid looking after his camera.
The photoshoot just flew by. Leaving to curiosity the stories I was curious about, it’s time to see him off. While I wish him good luck like two friends who met in campfire and promised to meet again, I bid him goodbye with enthusiasm. If I get to meet him again some time later on, I’ll sit with my chin propped up on my hand and I’ll listen to what he has to say and give him a round of applause… Because it seems that Lee Soo Hyuk’s interesting story is only at its beginning.
*t/n: here, I’d say “ssen” can be translated as “standing out”.