Entering her second year in the accessories business, Sang A Im-Propp has been recognized not only for her design aesthetic, but her entertaining skills, too.
The founder of the firm Sang A is from South Korea, where she was a famous entertainer who acted, sang and danced. Now Im-Propp, who emigrated to the U.S. in 1998, focuses all her creative energies on accessories.
Last month, the designer, a native of Seoul who now lives in New York, received an accolade that is close to her heart — and former home. Sang A was among the three winners of the Samsung Fashion and Design Fund, which celebrates budding Korean designers. She, along with the duo of Steve Jun and Yoni Pai of Steve J and Yoni P, and men's wear designer Gunhyo Kim received the award, along with a grant of $100,000 each. Previous winners of the three-year-old initiative include Doo-ri Chung and Richard Chai.
"Fashion is more than an industry. It is a medium for expression of one's identity and an important field of culture that can determine the image of a country," Samsung president and chief executive officer Jin-Hoon Je said in a statement. He said the fund, founded in 2005, would "help Korean fashion make its mark on the world market."
Sang A handbags are made primarily of exotic skins such as alligator, snakeskin and shagreen. Signature looks include a zip-top square satchel with square-shaped gold hardware and a parallelogram-shaped clutch.
Starlets Keira Knightley, Lindsay Lohan and Mischa Barton have carried her bags, which are made in Italy. The line is sold in 25 doors, including select Neiman Marcus stores, Kirna Zabête, Tracey Ross and Satine in Los Angeles.
"I focus on clean shapes," said Im-Propp, who added that her inspiration is derived from Art Deco, Ellsworth Kelly and all things Sixties. "My aesthetic is modern classic with a dose of avant-garde."
As for the honor, Im-Propp said, "I got very emotional at first. I feel like my home country is behind me."
Im-Propp has thought about creating a ready-to-wear line, but not until she's done with her accessories endeavor."My canvas is always black, all the colors that I use go with black," she said. "I'm very focused on different materials you can't find."
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“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
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