As proprietor of women’s apparel and lifestyle shop Babel Fair, Erica Kiang jet sets to far-flung locales, scooping up the latest and greatest looks from the streets-way before they hit any stores. This past summer she told PAPERMAG what caught her eye in Barcelona, and today she shares the goods from Seoul. Check it out:

Seoul Fashion Week just wrapped, having presented the best Korean designers to international buyers and press for the tenth year running. True to Asia’s reputation as a trendsetting terrain, the talent at SFW proved to be innovative and inspired. Here’s who sizzled, what they showed and why it was hot:

WHO: Kaael E Suktae
WHAT: Geometric collection inspired by Star Wars
WHY IT WAS HOT: Pushed the the limits of wearable fashion. Loved the Blade Runner feel of his clothes, specifically his angular patchwork crop tops. The expert cut-outs and structured shapes showed off his tailoring chops, honed at Sonia Rykiel and Christian Dior.

WHAT: Quirky fun line by Seung Gun-Park
WHY IT WAS HOT: Without any formal fashion education, Park’s lighthearted line has become a Korean celebrity fave. Tiny puff balls, loose silhouettes, and lots of fringe demonstrated Park’s knack for creating the impossibly cute. A+ for the scarf pants, too.

WHO: Imseonoc
WHAT: Wearable fashion juxtaposed with progressive pieces
WHY IT WAS HOT: Featuring a dueling pianist and DJ booming techno beats, this show was one of the most interesting of the week. The music reflected the contrasting fashion vibes: a classic buttondown followed by a futuristic dress, for example. The finale wowed with the pianist softly singing “When the Saints Go Marching in” as a model sashayed down the runway in a plastic bubble cape.

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Erica Kiang is the mastermind behind Babel Fair, the Nolita shop stocked with of-the-moment clothes, accessories and trinkets from around the world. With the help of three trend forecasters, she imports styles simmering on the streets of Europe, Asia, South America and beyond. Last week, however, she hopped a flight to Barcelona to observe their latest and greatest wares firsthand. Here she reports to PAPER on what caught her eye at Barcelona Fashion Week:

Hot off a World Cup victory, Barcelona was alive with energy, romance, and a bit of disco edge last week for Barcelona Fashion Week. Located in the impressive Fira de Barcelona, the week kicked off in true Spanish style – with wine flowing before noon, a DJ perched above the cobblestone quad, and the fashion crowd busting a move between each presentation. Eighteen shows were held during the three-day event, and they represented a mix of European talent.

Among the standouts: Spain’s own Cardona Bonache, whose Spring 2011 collection focused on a monochromatic white scheme enhanced by pleating and folding details. Bonache’s show opened with the very literal accordion dress made with a series of delicate pin tucks. Earning an increasing reputation, Juan Antonio Avalos of Barcelona was also a hit. He showed a menswear collection influenced by Japanese pop culture, with punchy colors and metallic shoulder pads. (Even the hamster wheel helmets his models wore, however, could not hide the hotness of Spanish model Jon Kortajarena, from A Single Man, as he walked the show). And, finally, Indian designer Manish Arora, renowned for his wild M.I.A. and Lady Gaga custom designs, seriously brought it. We loved his sequin bodices, race car skirts, and fantastical prints. In a word: dazzling.

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For a slice of the international streetwear scene, look no further than Nolita. We’re not talking about tourists strolling Mott Street, we mean retail newcomer Babel Fair, a shop that brings together of-the-moment clothes, accessories and trinkets from around the world. Peep what all the kids are wearing… Right now, that includes Aussie up-and-comers Maurie and Eve ($189 for their sassy side-pocket dress), San Bernardo it-boots by way of Italy ($249), tricked-out blackberry covers from Hong Kong ($29), and cutting edge Heavy Machine heels from Taiwan (we covet the $259 pairs above).

After working for a couple big-name fashion companies, owner Erica Kiang sought to bring something new and a little funky to the retail landscape. At Babel Fair, she enlists the help of three freelance trend forecasters, who regularly report what styles are simmering on the streets of their European, Asian and South American markets. That means anything from casual Pima cotton tees from Peru to dazzling sequin tops from Brazil. Kiang selects items that jive with her store’s fun, flirty vibe and tries to keep prices below $300.

So far, Babel Fair is a hit among visitors and locals alike. We watched customers scoop up those colorful, compact headphones by Swedish company Urbanears ($59) and the last few pairs of Cochni made Italian cashmere leggings ($129). The store’s assortment is constantly changing, though, so best to stay ahead of the curve by coming often!

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