When Hanbok meets Flou

Seoul Fashion Week put emphasis on traditional Korean dress for its ending

Seoul Fashion Week was closed with a heartbreakingly beautiful collection by the label Tchai Kim, which was shown in a temple and adjoining winter garden at the Shilla hotel, widely considered the best hotel in all of Asia. In a way, designer Kim Young-jin’s show was a promise of things to come from Seoul fashion which is still predominantly a commercial fashion week. What was so special here? Tchai Kim meshed traditional Korean dress with Parisian flou ateliers and came up with a modern version of bridal couture which felt young and modern.

The finest and thickest hand-painted silk we have seen in a long time Seoul Fashion Week
The finest and thickest hand-painted silk we have seen in a long time

Here is the problem of all fashion weeks all over the world except the ones in Paris, Milan and London: Designers riff too much on what is shown there. So Seoul catwalks were full of Comme des Garçons, Rick Owens, Dries van Noten, J.W. Anderson, Raf Simons and most of all Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent references.

All the men have a feminine touch here in Korea enhanced by the bow at Blindness Seoul Fashion Week
All the men have a feminine touch here in Korea enhanced by the bow at Blindness

But this is not to say that this fashion week is not shaping up to be one of the top players next to London, Milan, Paris and New York. The country has a Made in Korea manufacturing industry, a fashion addicted client base, the K-Pop phenomenon – nearly every show featured screaming teenagers and smiling, surgically enhanced stars – good fashion schools and most of all an ambitious creative director for Seoul Fashion Week Kuho Jung. His meticulousness and willingness to learn is impressive. Last season the closing was held at Zaha Hadid’s DDP with a way too long series of speeches and endless fashion shows that had everyone yawning. This year he cut the whole affair in half and focused the proceedings on telegraphing significant Korean culture values for the guests to take home. And as always, Kuho creates a link to the Korean food world by having a wonderful closing meal which started with a fine diced scallop and shrimp appetizer.

Scallop and shrimp cake Seoul Fashion Week
Scallop and shrimp cake

But back to Tchai Kim’s wonderful fashion moment. The designer is a wonderful colorist and blended bright apple green full-blown skirts with fuchsia jackets and the omni present Obi belt looked perfectly right as it was Miuccia Prada’s obsession of the season for her Prada and Miu Miu shows and hence one of the big trends of the European season.

Granny Smith Apple meets fuchsia Seoul Fashion Week
Granny Smith Apple meets fuchsia

Fabrics were opulent and beautiful as in hand painted floral silk skirts in hourglass silhouettes. Some of her looks were taken from the traditional to a fashion territory simply by sticking to black and white as in a knee-length silk coat and a full long dress which was Kim’s version of day wear and showed best how she takes the Hanbok concept into real life.

Kim Young-jin’s signature look Seoul Fashion Week
Kim Young-jin’s signature look

The men’s wear designer Yong Kyun Shin at Blindness also left a memorable impression with his well-choreographed show. In fact, he showed boot cut leather pants in camel and black which would have stood out on a European runways as well. His slightly girlish details like bows and ribbons were of course a nod to Alessandro Michele at Gucci but overall this 29-year-old designer in only his third season is one to watch. Shin Kyu Yong knows how to channel the feelings of Young Korean men into wearable and well cut clothes.

Blindness designer Shin Kyu Yong and his models Seoul Fashion Week
Blindness designer Yong Kyun Shin and his models