Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Episode 4 Gemma Kahng: "Is that what muses do? Go to parties?"

New, 5 comments

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Once upon a time Gemma Kahng was raking in over $6 million a year off of her iconic '90s power suits, menswear-inspired outerwear and an obsession with buttons. Now you've never heard of her. Well, maybe you heard of her last night. It was her turn for a Joe Zee-style fashion revamp on the Sundance Channel's All On the Line.

Some background: Kahng—a "50-something" Korean-born designer with gorgeous hair, amazing clothes, a penchant for fur and the ability to straight-up buy insane-looking Balenciaga vests—used to be a big name: Vogue covers, Bergdorf-Goodman, the whole nine. While she never stopped designing buyers stopped buying. Now she's almost out of money, clothes a self-serving, party-going muse, and employs a borderline insane, unpaid Creative Director (shouldn't she be the Creative Director?) with one of those mystery-European accents, a skinny little ferret face and the tiniest spectacles you've ever seen.

Here are our top-ten greatest moments of last night's episode:

10.) Zee was not having any of Kahng's staff: "Is that what muses do? Go to parties?"

9.) And this Creative Director? Zee had Kahng fire him—not that he was getting paid or doing any work ("I'm on Facebook."). This resulted in his declaration that the whole thing was merely "trash television" and "like mafia" before sending Zee eleven desperate emails over the course of one night.

8.) Zee doesn't mess around: He hired security for Kahng's buyer's presentation with Soho's high end retailer Kirna Zabete.

7.) As part of Zee's whirlwind retail education, he took Kahng to a few Soho mainstays: Realm, Kirna and hipsterific Oak. At Kirna Zabete we met one of the shop's proprietors (we're not sure which one, they're both glowy, circa-middle-aged women, tall and slim, with matching pixie haircuts) who piled on the snob. On how "extremely exclusive" their racks are: "Usually we leave a buying appointment not buying a collection."

6.) So, that being said, they bought the collection and asked for an exclusive. Will any of these designer's not sell the collection or get their Elle e-spread? we want a look at one of these contracts and who's getting paid what for what exactly.

5.) They visited Norma Kamali. She is stunning.

4.) Kahng is pretty adorable in general. While visiting an exhibit at FIT's museum: "Oh, buttons!" And, "I love to make a coat!"

3.) Her clothes are pretty cute too: Leather pants, a leopard coat, that Balenciaga thing, a fur hat so massive you couldn't see her face. If the line fails she should style.

2.) Her make-up was always flawless, too—Zee enters her studio as she's reapplying lipstick: "Hard at work!"

1.) Lay it on thick, Zee: The last time he heard anything about Kahng he was "was typing things on typewriters."
· All All On the Line Coverage [Racked]
· All On the Line [Sundance]