When interested in (infatuated with might be a more accurate description) fashion, of course there are the standard iconic designers one looks up to. Think Coco Chanel, Lagerfeld, Kors, the late McQueen, and so the list goes on. I personally also take great interest in Stella McCartney for her efforts at creating environmentally friendly collections, meaning I support the statement RE-use, don’t AB-use (or at least try to do so). Even though China is still not famous for its environmental friendliness, the only ‘green and clean’ area of Beijing being the Olympic Village, Stella does have an Asian counterpart and her name is, well clear as mud already I suppose, Currie Lee. This week I would like to lift the first smog clouds off this particular fearless and extravagant woman, who I happen to admire a lot.
South Korea, Canada, the United States, they are all combined in the one designer that is Lee. Descending from globetrotting parents, she spent her childhood growing up in both East and West, receiving her education in Canada, America and South Korea as well as in China. After graduation, she managed to pass the bar quicker than JFK Jr. and became a full-time lawyer for a NYC based law firm. That’s when it hit her: I don’t want to be doing this; I want to be a designer. So she packed her goodie bags and off she went, to Beijing, on a journey to start chasing the fashion dragon (yet in a far more creative way than myself as I couldn’t draw a decent house to safe my life). Furthermore, Currie purely intended to design accessories and clothing that portrayed her own specific values and ideas in their designs. And so her story went on to the next level…
The fruits of her labor are gathered together in DimSum of All things Asian (D-SATA by CuR); a name born from her many trips throughout Asia, covering everything from minority villages to the bustling cities of Tokyo and Shanghai. These are the places where Currie realized she was completely and utterly in love with all things Asian. Her collections are the visualization of sustainable and slow fashion, as she calls it, as opposed to today’s hurriedly and constantly changing catwalks or fast fashion. Moreover, except for being made of natural materials, all of her pieces are handcrafted by women in Southeast Asia who receive an income which allows them to live their lives instead of merely being able to scrape by on a minimum wage of 3 RMB per hour. (On a side note, waitresses at Starbucks in Beijing also only make a whopping 5 RMB per hour.) Lee based her decision to do so on the basic ethical principle that all human life is equal regardless of geography, economy, race, gender, age or beliefs. And who could disagree?
Ladies and Gentlemen; I present to you Currie Lee: From the Devil’s to High Fashion’s Advocate.
In the following weeks, you will hear from Currie here, in her own words.
 UNESCO, 2011.