Sep 6, 2015

MONGSENGEE by Yang, Soon-Ja in Jeju Island: Perfect Browns for Autumn 2015 Outfits Using Homegrown Natural Dyes From Persimmons (Jeju's Gal-Ott)

Jeju Gal-Ott designer, Ms. Yang, Soon-Ja
at her newly moved boutique MONGSENGEE

I discovered a new awesome fashion designer while I was on a family vacation in Jeju Island last weekend! My parents have been wearing her clothes for over a decade now, and she is a clothier to famous Korean authors, creatives, and even the world renowned Mr. Ban Ki-Moon (secretary general to the United Nations).

She hand dyes her clothes in unripe persimmons which she grows in her own persimmon trees. And she designs clothes for men and women, children, and her line extends to fashion accessories like hats, scarves, bags, gloves, socks, and soft furnishings like curtains and gift items such as dolls.

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I was so fascinated by her clothes once I stepped into her newly moved boutique in Jeju Island that what was meant to be a social call, turned into hours of exploring and shopping!

I knew her clothes were well made, as I had cleaned out my Dad's wardrobe earlier this year. Before I had met her, I had already known about her clothes, and her designs were my Dad's most prized and most worn ensembles. He wore them so well for so long that we had to find him a repair shop, and it was then that I saw the insides of her garment and how well designed they were on the inside as well as the outside! She designed her clothes so that when the sleeves are folded upwards, the insides show a nice color contrast to the outside. Most modern factory made garments are only well made when the designer intends for the sleeves to be folded. But in her garments, I saw that she designed it so that the jacket would look great both when the sleeves were left long or rolled up! The same was true for the collar that my Dad had worn thin; the repair maestro said that since the inside of the collar part was so well crafted, he could just do a reverse facing and it would look good as new, and it was true.

Being a Type 1 dominant, secondary 3, I do well in warm colors, and everything in the boutique was dyed using persimmon, so they were all in my colors! A lot of them had  crisp textured surface, so I felt like there was a lot to choose from. Most stores in Korea tend to follow the seasons' palette for their collections, so I found it extra fun to explore all of the offerings she had created.

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After choosing a cute dark brown-bronze skirt with tiny tassels in horizontal stripes, I saw a pair of hanbok pants (hanbok is our traditional Korean garments) with a waist string detail, that cupped my lower shin for ease of movement, and I somehow just fell in love with her clothes.

I'm actually doing Jill Chivers's My Year Without Clothes Shopping challenge, but my Mom gifted me these clothes. And we asked Ms. Yang, Soon-Ja, if we could revisit her boutique to create outfits and have a mini photo shoot session.

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Photo of persimmon fruit in a bowl
Persimmons are one of the most favored dessert treats among Koreans. From little children to elders with weakening teeth, persimmons are served as a fresh cut fruit, or dried naturally in the sunlight, or chilled like sorbet.

In the dying process though, Ms. Yang uses unripe persimmons, and she has sought the wisdom and techniques of older generation Halmoni's (grandma's) all the way up to parts of China. 

Her boutique offers one day dying classes as well, so you can make arrangements to try for yourself! She graduated FIT in NYC, so no problemo with English translations! She is very global~ 

Mongsengee Boutique in Jeju Island:
Adorable photo of Ms. Yang picking from her own persimmon tree:

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*~Photoshoot Day~*

Me in MONGSENGEE outfit, and four outfits I made using her designs~ 

Here, I'm wearing a cropped blouse with a small cowlneck and short sleeves, and the hanbok pants I mentioned above. I'm also wearing a tank tee underneath that is the same color as the pants, so it doesn't show as much.

I found it really easy to mix and match styles from her pieces because they all came from the same color family of persimmons. I also loved the uniqueness of natural dyes. I'm used to shopping from fashion mall stores like H&M, Mango, Zara, and Stradivarius. Pretty much everything is artificial dye, so seeing these in varied textures felt like a feast to my soul and tactile senses.

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Outfit #1: That Hat She Designed with a Sharp Edgy & Natural Jacket

So here's a fedora, a jacket, and a dress looking totally snazzy for Fall 2015! The lapels have nice sharp edges to them, a practical pocket placed diagonally, and you can see how the sleeve's inside has a nice color ready to be rolled or folded up. The necklace, she didn't make; but as you can see, it is super easy to dress this ensemble up. A scarf, or necklace, or a brooch can give you lots of choices with these pieces.

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Outfit #2: A Cute Casual Fall Outfit for 2015~

Here, I tried something more casual and outdoorsy. The hat, scarf with gold threads running through them, and a cute crossover bag spice up the textured dress. My Mom bought a mobile phone holder for herself because she keeps forgetting her phone... but again, it was super easy and fun to style this look because the colors are already harmonized.

Here's a cute frilly bolero jacket and a lacy vest inside.

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Outfit #3: The Feminine Touch for a Lady-Like Peach/Brown/Taupe Outfit

This outfit has a heartshaped taupe dress underneath, a semi-see-through slightly oversized blouse, with a peach-beige scarf. The cameo brooch was added for that lady-like demure accent that draws the eye upwards to your face.

I think this dress is just lovely. You can style it with the bolero from above, or wear it with various cardigans, a denim jacket, or style it with a blouse or slouchy knit top over it. You could even wear it with a layering t-shirt under it for Spring and Summer months.

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Outfit #4: Double-breast Styled Jacket-Coat with Solid Dark Brown Scarf

This jacket-coat is partly modern and boxy like a Chanel silhouette, and partly retro classic with their tan and copperish brown color combo. The scarf adds a darker heavier hand and it would look fabulous with someone who has deep brown hair and/or eyes.

The tan-brown coat is boxy and sqaured off, but the lapel and pocket have definite diagonal lines in them, adding a sassier edgier detailing. I think by switching up scarf or bag or boots colors, you could wear this every Spring and Autumn! Sometimes dark greens, or rich purples or plums, other times mustard or smart reds... Metallics in dark bronze or antique gold, or copper... There are infinite stylings possible with this classic modern coat.

Here's a jacket that can be worn as a jacket or a shirt. Similar to the coat above, this jacket is versatile in that it has a classic boxy silhouette, with sharp collar designs, and as the buttons are the same color this would be uber easy to dress up or down.

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Here are some close up's of various textures and patterns you can see in her garments. Each piece tells a unique story... Each different from the next! I think this is what made it so fun for me to shop in her store! So much texture fun!

Tiny florals & stripes, with a slight see-through material... Very sexy and fun!

Lovely copperish colored scarf, with crisp rough but see-through fabric, and added drama with the gold-yellow motif... I love how that's just thrown in and looks so right...

The fabric has a certain resilience built into it, so Ms. Yang says if you find it too tough on your skin, you can use extra fabric softener in the laundry machine. I love this camisole in its earthy yet lighter more golden-yellow hue; the brown textures make it so special, and the tiny lace details make it feminine. This tough & feminine juxtaposition is so amazing and perfection ^__^~*

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More of Fall 2015's Splendid Selections in Browns & Tans

This dress is so cowboy hip~ You could wear an ivory necklace or a cream fur vest, maybe a longer duster vest with an obi belt... A leather jacket, cowboy hat or a newspaper boy cap, with long suede boots, and you're ready to party anywhere!!!

No seriously, that dress with gorgeous thick wavy hair, and copper sparkle eyepowder, and red lips... You're basically going to ooze sex appeal in a very real earthy sensual way... Mmmmm... (Kind of makes me wish I were a Type 3 or Autumn!)

So these were displayed higher up by Ms. Yang herself...
I think I want the cowboy hat next time, I visit her.

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Last but not least . . .

MONGSENGEE dolls! Whee~!!! These are so cute & precious!
It was fun seeing them sitting in a row next to the bags and hats...
Really cool gift items I think. Ms Yang says they are now offered in duty-free shops~~

SOCKS!!! I didn't know till that day, but both my parents were wearing these socks. Apparently, once you start wearing these, you can't go back to regular socks! The material is tight and stretchy at the same time, and because of their natural dye and fabric treatment, Ms Yang says they can be worn up to three days without washing...! OK, I'll have to test that theory out, but I know how picky my parents are... So we'll see...
If I run out of gift ideas for Xmas, I think I'll order these for my uncle & aunties!

The range of Autumn's colors from Unripe Persimmon Dye.
All natural. Available in silks and linens, or cottons...

Oh, yeah, because synthetic fabrics don't soak up natural dye, the fabrics themselves are totally organic... So it's really great for your skin and body.

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OUTRO: About the MONGSENGEE name & logo~*

I asked Ms Yang what MONGSENGEE meant, and she said that it means a young horse (colt or filly). I asked her why she chose the horse among all animals, and she told me, "I used to play in open fields & roam freely like a young horse when I was a kid... So that's what it's about."

For more info, please call MONGSENGEE Corp. at +82-64-796-8285.
Address: #72-16 Jeoji 12-gil Hangyeong-myeon, Jeju-city,
Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, South Korea, Zip 695-947.

You can reach Ms. Yang, Soon-Ja at 

Jessica FlatShoenista

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