Once a major luxury player, leather-goods brand MCM dropped off fashion's radar. Sung-Joo Kim, 53, who established Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Sonia Rykiel in the Asian market, is bringing it back, reimagining it as a house of timeless elegance. "Recent luxury has been logo-driven and tacky. It's for concubines and women with wealthy husbands," she says. Her classic designs target "the intelligent, professional woman who appreciates quality and value" -- and they seem to be working. Since acquiring the brand in 2005, Kim has tripled sales, to $280 million annually, and gradually expanded the brand's presence in key markets (in the U.S., it's now available at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's). Kim plowed $40 million into MCM, but views the investment as more than financial. Disowned by her strict Korean family for choosing her career over a traditional at-home role, Kim sees herself as a champion for ambitious women: "I want to prove that women can do as well as men -- and even better."
People say it is reverse imperialism. I don't agree. It is true globalisation of East meeting West in equal terms,