When I first heard about Concept Korea, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a fashion show that was run through a government agency (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism). Politics influence fashion, or at least political candidates and often their wives have had an enormous impact on fashion but that has often been on a personal taste level. However, considering this is an ambitious project to guide a nation into a cultural/creative world leader, fashion has now become a matter of national pride.
Seeing as the participants of the show have undergone rigorous screenings both within Korea and on an international level, the show became about going big or going home. They went with the going big. The show was held in The Theatre, the largest space that Lincoln Center had to offer.
First up was Pucca by Kwak Hyun Joo based on the famous round faced Korean cartoon character that I grew up loving (think Hello Kitty like but with attitude and an appetite for Black Bean Sauce Noodles!). This season the show was based on Snow White, poisonous apples and a seductive love potion. The resulting looks were futuristic super hero girls that were a whole lot of rock & roll. Models sauntered down the runway holding red apple while wearing hoods/cloak like garments and ethereal strange greens in various shades contrast coral tones. These were fortunately anchored by neutrals so they did not become overwhelming. Pants were slim, skirts were short & full and outerwear was oversized. Fans of Custo Barcelona would definitely appreciate.
Next on deck was a menswear line, Resurrection by Juyoung Lee. The concept behind this collection was blurring gender lines and creating a collection that used traditionally feminine materials, like lace, sheer fabrics and sequins, to create a raw and very dark men’s collection in the vein of Rick Owens that Andrew Mukamal (Kelly Cutrone’s assistant on Kell on Earth) would be very comfortable in. Military detailing and a healthy dose of studs keeps the line looking masculine and quite wearable. The collection played it safe and stuck to a very man friendly black and grey color scheme.
Finally, for the main course was Lee Jean Youn, “The Strange Wedding Ceremony”, a couture worthy collection that was inspired by the intricacies of love, rites, life and death. The “I Dream of Jeannie” sky high pony tails often accented by flowers and the dramatic make up (often ashy skin & white eyelashes) were only the backdrop to a collection that seemed to focus on the play of dramatic volumes. This was my favorite of the trio, although probably the least commercial. Keeping things simple with a palette of white, nudes and blacks splashed by peaches, an awkward foam green kept a focus on the details that played with transparencies, texture and volumes.
While I don’t know if one show will change what one nation believes of another, I believe that these strides are not in vain and the building blocks to future growth. Wonder what next season will bring!