Jin Kay : In Praise of Shadows

Parsons, The New School for Design, announced their Designer of the Year award at their Annual Fashion Benefit a few weeks ago and it was no surprise to those who know of Jin Kay‘s work that he snatched up the coveted womenswear award. Kay’s presentation, pre-fall women’s ready-to-wear collection, was inspired by the book In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki. Written in the 1930’s, it compares the definition of beauty in the East and West.

While the Western World celebrates the beauty that’s exposed and revealed, the East rejoices everything that is hidden, quiet and mysterious.  This collection is an exploration of the diverse and unique qualities of shadows as shown by the contrasting textures of  his chosen materials (i.e.chiffon and wool), polished, refined and extremely wearable; which of course translates to commercial sales. The video below shows his process of cutting and draping, and allowing for creative ways to wear the pieces.

The contrasting paradoxical depths are created by the very clever use of shades of black tones which absorb light and create the mysterious shadow quality. This is exactly what the book does; by exposing this very mysterious side of the East, and holding it up to our bold and loud Western ways, it forces us to look deep into ourselves and our relationship to our planetary habitation . How do we view this relationship, what are the effects of it, and do we really (strive to) understand it??


Jin Kay (Jin Woo Kim) was born and raised in South Korea. During his early years in Seoul, Busan, he developed a sensibility, rooted in a conceptual and poetic design philosophy. His appreciation for art and design evolved and expanded after relocating to the highly competitive cultural scene of New York City. In 2005,  Kay was admitted at the prestigious Parsons, The New School for Design, and since then he has been nominated and recognized with some of the most prominent honors available in the Fashion industry. In 2007 he received the AFT International Fashion Award as well as an International Scholarship from Parsons School of Design for excelling in Design. In 2010 SAGA FURS selected him as one of the Top 5 Finalists for an Accessory line and in 2011 the CFDA selected him as one of the Top 10 Designers with Honorable Mention. Most recently he was the recipient of the D2 North America Award, he was selected to be part of a Design Workshop organized by the LVMH Group in New York City, and he has been distinguished as 2012 Designer of the Year from Parsons School of Design.