Cecilia Kahangi fell in love with Korea at a young age. The 21 year old, hailing from France, is now a Sookmyung Women's University student. When she's not studying, she's modeling, and most recently she became the muse for pushBUTTON's Fall Winter 2015 collection titled "Do Love Me!" ♥
Interview Gissella Ramirez-Valle, Photos Elizabeth Royal & pushBUTTON, Edits Shay M
Hey Cecilia! To start off, please tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to move to South Korea.
Cecilia: I did not come to Korea because of K-pop! (Laughs)
I was born and raised in France. It's a long story, but to make it short - I discovered the Korean language when I was in elementary school. My mom had a Korean boss and I became interested in studying and living in Korea even since then. I worked at a Zara after graduating high school in order to save up for my trip here. I finally came to Korea a year ago and I'm now attending a language institute at Sookmyung Women's University.
I'm wondering what you think about Korean fashion in comparison to what you saw in France.
Cecilia: I love Korean fashion! In Hongdae, fashion is really daring, with a mix of Korean street-fashion, Hip-Hop and Japanese style. Around the Gangnam area, it's more classy, and sophisticated without being too bling bling. You see a lot of designer clothes there too. Overall, I think Korean fashion is freer compared to French fashion. Paris might be the city of fashion, but try walking down the trendy French streets. You'll mostly see black, grey, and brown.
Have you adapted Korean style into your own personal style? In what ways?
Cecilia: I like mixing Korean clothes with African patterns or adding a French touch to them with jewelry. I also wear a lot of vintage to make sure I have a unique piece in my outfit. Life is too short to stick to one style! I like shopping at A-land and at the road shops that carry unbranded stuff. In Seoul, you can have a cute and original style at an affordable price!
Now please tell me more about attending Seoul Fashion Week!
Cecilia: I first attended Seoul Fashion Week last fall with some friends for the Spring/Summer 2015 season. We had the opportunity to see the 87mm, Nohke and Metrocity shows. It was the first time seeing fashion shows live so it was really exciting. On top of that, I also saw Jessica Alba!
And then you walked down the runway at Seoul Fashion Week the following season! How did that happen?Cecilia: pushBUTTON got in touch with me after I participated in a photoshoot for a Esmod Seoul student. I really couldn't even believe it. Six months prior to that I was looking at their runway show pictures with admiration and now they were inviting me to shoot their Fall Winter 2015 lookbook and to walk at Seoul Fashion Week! I'm so thankful things happened the way they did.
Your walk was intense! When I saw you come out I thought, "Whoa! Who's that girl!?" How did you prepare for the show?
Cecilia: Back then, I was already receiving walking classes from an unnie for a few months, but I started training even harder because walking is not my thing! (Laughs)
What have you learned from the experience of working with pushBUTTON? Are there other gigs you’ve obtained since then?
Cecilia: Working with pushBUTTON was challenging for me because I'm not a professional model. Since the show, I've done a few more shoots with them. I've also worked with Bund. The funny thing is that some Bund people actually spotted me a year ago in front of a bar and they said that they wanted to work with me. They never set any concrete plans until after the pushBUTTON show happened.
Who do you admire?
Cecilia: I don't admire anyone in particular. I just like people who work hard to pursue their dreams despite the hardships, the competitiveness, and so on. Seeing those kinds of people gives me the motivation to do the same and give the best of myself in order to become not a high class person, but someone who can inspire others too.
What do you usually do when you’re not studying or modeling? Is there a neighborhood you’re fond of?
Cecilia: I love hanging out around Garosu-gil, it's a shopping-coffee-restaurant area located in Sinsa-dong. This area is really peaceful but animated at the same time. Art-C and 25% are my favorite coffee shops there. I also enjoy hanging out in Hongdae, Gangnam clubs, and around Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
Where would you like to be in five or ten years?
Cecilia: I'm not planning on leaving Korea for at least ten years. I said at least! I would be the happiest girl if I could get into the Korean fashion industry. You might have to deal with my assistant next time you want an interview from me! (Laughs) Just kidding.
I don't doubt it!