Seoul Fashion Week: a vision of the creative future of Korean designers

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Seoul Fashion Week: a vision of the creative future of Korean designers

Korean culture has spread like wildfire around the world in recent years, with the hugely successful K-pop, K-film and K-beauty sectors attracting insatiable interest. Now, South Korea is also trying to take its fashion industry to the next level.

Korean culture has spread like wildfire around the world in recent years, with the hugely successful K-pop, K-film and K-beauty sectors attracting insatiable interest. Now, South Korea is also trying to take its fashion industry to the next level.

The push is led by the biennial Seoul Fashion Week (SFW), which, according to the city government, aspires to become the “fifth significant fashion week in the world” after the “Big Four” in New York, London, Milan and Paris.

The program of events, which concluded on Wednesday, highlighted local talent through a mix of live streaming catwalks and some of the first live shows since 2019. Lee Jung-jae, star of “Squid Game” and icon of the men’s style acted as a “global ambassador,” while four designers debuted their collections in Paris during Paris Fashion Week earlier this month, part of efforts to attract more international attention and buyers.

Below are some of the key points from the week-long event.

Models parade during rehearsal for the BONBOM show as part of Seoul Fashion Week 2022 AW on March 18, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea.

Models parade during rehearsal for the BONBOM show as part of Seoul Fashion Week 2022 AW on March 18, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. Credit: Justin Shin / Getty Images

The Seoul Museum of Craft Art has held in-person exhibits.

The Seoul Museum of Craft Art has held in-person exhibits. Credit: Justin Shin / Getty Images

C-ZANN ​​E is a brand inspired by minimalism and the traditional Korean hanbok.  The models wore ornate headdresses along the runway.

C-ZANN ​​E is a brand inspired by minimalism and the traditional Korean hanbok. The models wore ornate headdresses along the runway. Credit: Justin Shin / Getty Images

The BIG PARK FW 2022 collection included floral prints inspired by camellia flowers.

The BIG PARK FW 2022 collection included floral prints inspired by camellia flowers. Credit: LARGE PARK

New formats unleash creativity

Due to Covid-19, most brands showed up virtually again, filming their Fall-Winter 2022 creations with different approaches, some to the point of distraction and others in ways that seemed almost superior to physical shows.

Seokwoon Yoon, whose new collection from the label of the same name is informed by “future species, artificial intelligence robots and extraterrestrial beings”, has chosen the Busan Cinema Center, architecturally, as a backdrop. Models dressed in colorful dresses and puffy outerwear stood out among the clean, gray aesthetic of the building’s outdoor seating. Yoon said that while he lacked the energy of physical shows, the format allowed him to focus on certain clothing details.
SEOKWOON YOON opened with a model wearing this look, with motifs inspired by the juxtaposition of industrial materials and flowers.

SEOKWOON YOON opened with a model wearing this look, with motifs inspired by the juxtaposition of industrial materials and flowers. Credit: Seokwoon Yoon

Yoon said he believes young Korean designers have great potential in the global fashion industry.

Yoon said he believes young Korean designers have great potential in the global fashion industry. “They have their own process and their own ideas.” The concrete tetrapods of a Busan beach influenced this sculptural piece. Credit: Seokwoon Yoon

Elsewhere, the runway of the emerging label Comspace Not Enof Words appeared as a retro-style music video with energetic choreography, the Hanacha Studio show opened with a cadenced piano track and soft lighting, bringing home the attention of the collection on art and abstraction.
Models dance in the COMSPACE NOT ENOF WORDS Fall-Winter show.

Models dance in the COMSPACE NOT ENOF WORDS Fall-Winter show. Credit: Justin Shin / Getty Images

COMESPACE NOT ENOF WORDS 'collection consisting of monochromatic looks.

COMESPACE NOT ENOF WORDS ‘collection consisting of monochromatic looks. Credit: COMSPACE NOT ENOF WORDS

The theories of artists Wassily Kandinsky and Hilma af Klint inspired HANACHA STUDIO's approach this season.

The theories of artists Wassily Kandinsky and Hilma af Klint inspired HANACHA STUDIO’s approach this season. Credit: STUDIO HANACHA

Miss Gee Collection was set up in both indoor and outdoor film locations.

Miss Gee Collection was set up in both indoor and outdoor film locations. Credit: Justin Shin / Getty Images

Korean fashion on the world stage

Hyejeong Cho, managing director of Seoul Fashion Week, said interest in Korean fashion is growing and that the city government is “actively supporting leading Korean designers and brands to enter the European market.” For the first time, four Korean designers, including Eenk and Doucan, represented SFW at Paris Fashion Week, a time when the world’s foremost buyers and influential publishers descend on the fashion capital.

DOUCAN exhibited at the Palais Brongniart in Paris.

DOUCAN exhibited at the Palais Brongniart in Paris. Credit: DOUCANO

Choi said her approach is to create clothes that make you feel

Choi said his approach is to create clothes that make you feel “happy the moment you wear them”. Credit: DOUCANO

At the historic Palais Brongniart, Doucan intertwined floral and geometric tie-dye prints, mainly in the red, blue and white colors of the Korean flag, into beautiful silhouettes – some more curved, others more structured – in a highly wearable collection that paid homage to Seoul. “Seoul is a city of the night,” said label creative director Chung-Hoon Choi. “I wanted to show the beautiful yet dynamic energy that is felt through this collection.”

Eenk, another brand debuting in Paris, unveiled a collection that drew on 80s fashion editorials with strong, vintage-inspired pieces that evoke both glamor and power. “The identity (of the brand) is to seek the balance between classic yet unique, familiar yet contemporary and new at the same time,” said the designer of Eenk Hyemee Lee.

Designer EENK Hyemee Lee said the growing popularity of K culture around the world has given designers greater confidence.

Designer EENK Hyemee Lee said the growing popularity of K culture around the world has given designers greater confidence. Credit: AK

“Now more brands in South Korea have their own corporate identity and consumers are also pursuing their own tastes and senses rather than just following trends. I think this is the beginning of building Seoul’s unique history and culture,” he said. Lee said. Credit: AK

Embrace identity, take risks

The Seoul-based brand Painters was one of the labels exhibiting more experimental creations. Founder Won Jeon said young designers often chase hot new trends for their ready-to-wear collections in order to grow businesses. With a focus on couture, Won has included sculptural handcrafted pieces among the mix of commercially favorable dresses in her new collection. One such look, a voluminous hand-sewn dress in black deadstock fabric from the designer’s studio, was worn by a model posing in a steel-like “frame”. Other conceptual works that appeared in the frame reflected a desire to “express how (young designers) can do more,” explained Won.

“I want to put my culture through my collection,” he explained. “I think it should represent where I live and what I’m working on.”

Painters' Autumn-Winter collection mixes the conceptual with prêt-à-porter.

Painters’ Autumn-Winter collection mixes the conceptual with prêt-à-porter. Credit: Painters

A model poses in one of Painters' outfits, this one made entirely of deadstock.

A model poses in one of Painters’ outfits, this one made entirely of deadstock. Credit: Painters

Mina Chung’s ethereal Fall-Winter 2022 collection has meanwhile embraced the East Asian artistic theory of “Light and Shadow,” a concept which, she said, “describes an aesthetic that is a combination of simplicity and fullness” . Soft, fluid materials contrasted with the texture and touches of color. In one look, a model was seen draped with various fabrics, a silhouette inspired by an ancient Chinese landscape painting.

“The mountains in the painting have bold, energetic lines that can be translated into a 3D silhouette,” Chung said, adding that layering the silhouette with fabrics created more drama. Credit: GENERAL MINA

“I wanted one part of the collection to be very bold but simple, and another part that was more direct and captivating, louder,” he said. Credit: GENERAL MINA

Chung said young Korean designers are increasingly looking for what makes them unique at a time when K fashion is in high demand. “I think if Korean designers don’t try harder, the little fame we have will disappear very soon and the whole industry will fall back. We need to push ourselves harder to encourage more experimental designs that can represent Korea, and try to create more brands that can (match) the international standard of design marks. ”

Caption of the image above: A model poses for Miss Gee Collection.

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