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South Korean costume designer Lucy Song makes her way in Hollywood
Growing up in Seoul, South Korea, Lucy Song knew that her future career would revolve around fashion in some shape or form. She spent her early years developing the technical design skills used throughout the fashion industry, but it wasn't until moving to Los Angeles several years ago that her true calling as a costume designer for the film industry became apparent.

"I'd always wanted to design clothing that tells a story and could also be very artistic. I realized after watching numerous films, and a love of the costumes in TV shows such as "Reign" and "Outlander," how the costume designer could bring together authentic historic costume design, fabric, colors, but in a modern way that helps tell a story. I finally realized you could combine fashion, art and storytelling. Around that time, with the encouragement of a close friend, I realized costume design was my dream career."

Song has become internationally renowned for her ability to bring stories and characters to life through her costumes. Upon making the transition to costume design Song quickly made an impact, thanks to the years of work in the fashion industry she already had under her belt and her diverse talents.

After being headhunted based on her portfolio by the Emmy Award winning drama "The Bay," which airs on Amazon Prime, Song has gone from strength to strength with several projects soon to be released. "The Bay" has been recognized with 13 Daytime Emmy Awards since airing.

Ronak Shah, renowned for her directorial debut "I Do," and her subsequent film, "Make Love, Not War" starring Fawzia Mahmood and Imran Sheikh, sought out Song to help her bring her artistic vision for her next project, "Fountain of Youth," to life.

"Fountain of Youth" follows, Katie, a progressive young Korean American researcher studying the reversal of Alzheimer's disease in a human clinical trial. When one of the patients turns out to be her estranged, homophobic mother who doesn't remember her, Katie needs to treat her while facing the risk of losing her all over again as the mother's memories return.

Song was integral to the development and design of the aesthetic of the film where she ensured the costumes worked in harmony with the script to express the turmoil of each character as they develop through the film.

"There were very specific time period, character age flashbacks in this film to capture with the costumes. It was important to stay true to those time specific years from 1995 through 2008, while creating and staying true to authentic Korean designs, colors and mood. That involved natural gentle colors, a lot of dark blues, greys and beige colors, while also depicting the transition from traditional Korean styles to slowly presenting American influence on the character's clothing choices and what style choices that Korean American infusion creates for the characters over their age progression through the years" explains Song.

Conducting extensive research before she began her design process on "Fountain of Youth," Song visited Korean churches in pre-production to ensure she was able to capture the amalgamation of Korean-American culture and present it authentically in the costumes.

During the production phase, Song worked closely with Shah to ensure that the costume design reflected the journey of each character. One of the most important elements for a costume designer is their ability to create a wardrobe that helps the actors connect and embody their characters, something Song is a proven professional at achieving.

Song was motivated to take on the project after falling in love with the script and Shah's storytelling style.  

"The first time I read the script, I could not put it down, I read it from start to finish. The characters were so well written, that it felt like they were right there with me in the room. She captured the mother and daughter's relationship so well emotionally. I loved the script," says Song. "I am of Korean descent. So the story and characters spoke to me on so many levels. She truly captured an authentic Korean mother daughter relationship. [Shah] had such a clear strong visual statement about the look of the film that it made it very easy to reach her same vision costume design wise."

"Fountain of Youth" was recognized and awarded by the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science and Technology Film Production grant which rewards filmmakers for tackling science and technology themes in their work.

Her recent project "The Poison of Grapefruit" from director Fletcher Crossman starring David Air from the TV series "Loose Ends" and "Star Kids" took Song in a completely new creative direction as a costume designer. For this film, she was tasked with designing costumes for prison guards, courtroom judges and police officers as well as prison inmates. As with every project she's worked on, she nailed the mark; and her spot-on work as a costume designer helped the actors effortlessly slip into the characters on screen.

"My job as a costume designer in these types of situations is to provide costumes that serve the characters so the story can be conveyed in an authentic tone. I enjoyed designing the formal prison guard uniforms from that time period, as there were several details to capture, all the shapes, textures and accessories were very interesting to research and put together," explains Song.

"I intentionally stayed away from distracting prisoner uniform colors, such as orange or white, and went with dark blue or sage uniforms to ensure it did not distract the viewer's eye from the films overall color tone."

Dazzling collaborators with her original and inspiring work, Song is sure to continue blazing the trail for South Korean costume designers in Hollywood.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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