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Couture Korea: From Far East to West Coast

I was stunned and proud to see my title on the wall of an exhibition in San Francisco. After I noticed that the phrases have been about Korean designer Jin Teok, I recalled immediately the layers of skinny, white cloth, like wispy clouds, that the celebrated designer had proven me in her Seoul boutique – and what she had advised me about her reverence of, and reference to, her nation’s previous. I additionally vividly remembered the path, as high quality as thread, that she had traced by way of her household’s origins and native tradition during the last half-century.

The cotton “Strata” costume, from Jin Teok’s “Earth” sequence, 2000

© Arumjigi Tradition Keepers Foundat􀆟ion

“Jin Teok’s garments are like a poem. They communicate from her soul, generally as a whisper, often with a shout, all the time with grace,” I wrote in 2015 after I was making ready for the second Condé Nast Worldwide Luxurious Convention in South Korea.

Till I noticed the newly opened “Couture Korea” on the Asian Artwork Museum in San Francisco (till four February 2018) I had not realised the steadfast historical past – from the 13th to the 19th century – that had outlined how the nation dressed. In Seoul, I used to be charmed by the sight of younger girls returning to the colorful Hanbok (principally to take selfies, in line with the curator, Hyonjeong Kim Han). However the Californian museum gave me an infinitely wider imaginative and prescient than my recollections of Ok-Pop, G-Dragon, Gangnam Fashion and Seoul Trend Week, the place the reveals appeared to fuse female and male clothes in a contemporary means.


A silk costume and cotton denim and lace skirt by Jin Teok (b. 1934) from her 1995 “Blood” assortment. The ensemble was impressed by a traditi􀆟onal Korean embroidered marriage ceremony gown with peony, phoenix and butterfly embroidery

© Arumjigi Tradition Keepers Basis

My concepts about that gender-neutral costume sense have been challenged after I noticed the terribly detailed his’n’hers clothes historically worn by boy and woman infants to at the present time. The child boy’s vibrant outfit, every bit symbolising luck and hope, had a tiger hat to guard him from evil spirits; whereas the newborn woman’s bonnet was embellished with chrysanthemum-shaped knots, symbolising the solar and perfection.

Hyonjeong Kim Han has supplied a lesson in Korean tradition by way of this show of exquisitely delicate costume, though the curator reconstructed a lot of the historic garments to clarify reveal how the clothes have been made, in addition to their sophistication, selection of supplies and social function. The ultimate rooms of the exhibition present the work of two designers utilizing 21st-century materials and imaginative and prescient. For instance, Im Seonoc’s style model, PartspARTs, is made totally from Neoprene, specifically constructed to stop waste; whereas Jung Misun has re-imagined the fragile conventional materials in sturdier supplies equivalent to jersey, wool and cotton.


The “Couture Korea” exhibition on the Asian Artwork Museum in San Francisco options historic costume in addition to the work of up to date designers equivalent to Im Seonoc (b. 1962), whose style model, PartspARTs, consists largely of Neoprene (such because the “Day by day Put on” costume on the far proper, from 2016), which has a cleaner manufacturing course of than many different fashionable materials

© Asian Artwork Museum


Jung Miyun’s “Hyang 04”, from 2016 – an ensemble comprising prime, belt and skirt created from wool‐mix knit, organza, and leather-based

© Arumjigi Tradition Keepers Basis


The cotton knit “Hyang 08” shirt, 2016, by Jung Misun (b. 1984)

© Arumjigi Tradition Keepers Basis

“Couture Korea” is an inspirational title from the curator, for the lengthy historical past of the Hanbok is totally of handwork. Every historic article, noble or delicate, was made to order, principally, in fact, for the excessive finish of society.

Alongside Jin Teok’s outfits, which she confirmed throughout Paris Trend Week within the 1990s, is the Korean-inspired assortment from Chanel Cruise in 2016.

Based on Hyonjeong Kim Han, on the time Karl Lagerfeld felt that Korean artwork was nonetheless unknown to the worldwide style neighborhood and hoped that his work would encourage future style generations. The Chanel assortment included a silk organza costume impressed by mom of pearl, and one other recreating conventional Korean cloth with a Korean alphabet sample that Karl described as being “like Cubism”.


Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel Cruise 2016 assortment was strongly influenced by Korean artwork and design, as on this outfit, impressed by conventional Korean mother-of-pearl marquetry

Chanel Patrimoine Assortment, Paris. © Chanel


A conventional Korean mother-of-pearl marquetry field with a lotus motif (1500-1650, Joson Dynasty). Designs equivalent to this impressed Karl Lagerfeld’s 2016 Chanel Cruise Assortment, which occurred in Seoul

© Asian Artwork Museum

Lagerfeld additionally gave credit score to one in all his right-hand girls, Kim Younger-Seong, Material Director of Chanel, and her capability to seek out inspiration in historic creations in addition to in the present day’s Ok-Pop world.


The Chanel set up on the “Couture Korea” exhibition on the Asian Artwork Museum. The Cruise 2016 assortment was significantly impressed by conventional Korean textiles and handcrafts (such because the mother-of-pearl embellished costume on the left)

© Asian Artwork Museum

Between the rooms displaying the extraordinary historic items and the area dedicated to Jin Teok and Chanel, is a movie that reveals the lightness of the clothes in movement, capturing them wafting throughout the display screen.

Hyonjeong Kim Han says that this exhibition is the primary in the complete size and breadth of the USA to take a look at Asian clothes. Maybe the move of individuals from the Far East to the West Coast – and the general focus of the museum – has made San Francisco an apparent vacation spot for the topic. However the Asian Artwork Museum appears to be significantly dynamic, with an growth plan imminent and a brand new pavilion to be constructed subsequent 12 months.

“Korea Couture” proves that within the typically choked-up calendar of museum style exhibitions, there are nonetheless fascinating new topics to discover which are recent and stuffed with feeling.

“Couture Korea” is on the Asian Arts Museum in San Francisco till 4th February 2018 (www.asianart.org)

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