K-pop may have made South Korea the center of global pop culture in recent years. The South Korean star has attracted legions of fans and has become a muse for some of the leading luxury fashion labels. I was looking west.
Curator of the George Washington University Museum and Textile Museum, Lee Talbot, wants the world to see the Korean Fashion: From Royal Court to Runway exhibition, which runs until December 22, 2022.
“I found it really frustrating and almost laughable that you wrote so much about fashion, fashion history, fashion theory, and equated fashion with the West,” says the resident of South Korea, who lives in South Korea and whose culture says Talbot, who has spent years studying the habits. “And they say the fashion and fashion system we have today was born because of Western modernism, Western individualism, the particular kind of market conditions we have. No, what you see here is an exhibit HanbokWe tend to interpret it as traditional Korean clothing.
“What I want to show with this exhibition is not that Korea suddenly started to emerge fashion from traditional and unchanging, adopting Western fashion and Western modern lifestyle,” he said. “No. What I’m trying to say with this exhibition is that Koreans have always been fashionable. Always.”
According to Talbot, this is the first time that Korean textiles and fashion has been the sole focus of a museum exhibit, at least outside of South Korea, and the first time that the Textile Museum has exhibited Korean textiles.
Considering that Korean fashion entered the American stage in 1893 through the Columbian World’s Fair, or the World’s Fair held in Chicago that year, the moment may be well overdue.129 Exhibit items from the previous exposition.
“The exhibition starts with objects booked in time and sent to the Chicago World’s Fair and ends with weekly updated screens showing only Seoul’s street fashion,” says Talbot. “What I really like about these bookends is that they are both Koreans presenting themselves to the world through fashion.”
In 1893, Korea first appeared at the World’s Fair to introduce itself to the world, and it chose to do so in fashion.
2 bridal robes OR Hualot A loan from Chicago’s Field Museum, which forms part of the exhibit, is, according to Talbot, “almost a holy grail of material because of this very interesting provenance. Kings represent their nations at court.” I’ve put together a committee to select objects… this is a fascinating group of objects chosen by the royal court.
The bridal robe, which was traditionally reserved for the aristocracy but eventually became the standard of all brides (although many brides now rent it because of the expensive embroidery and craftsmanship) still so today) tells the story that traditional Korean clothing can tell: about the wearer.
Korean-born textile historian and embroiderer Dr. Yong Yang Chung, who served as a consultant for the Korea Fashion Exhibition, explains: Everything has meaning, especially his 100 years ago. ”
One of the two robes on display is made of red, yellow and blue silk and is a patchwork of various old clothes onto new clothes, embroidered with meaningful symbols.
Of one of the robes Chung said: [made of] Colors determine age, gender, opportunity, and social status.
Red and blue symbolize harmony, and “this unique construction method, fully embroidered with a pattern that symbolizes the harmony of the bride and groom, is something else,” she says. For example, lotus and peony flowers represent wealth and dignity.
“This exhibition is very important for the general public to understand the symbolic meaning of Korean colors and concepts and patterns,” Jeong says.
The exhibition travels through South Korea’s sometimes troubled history, from Japanese colonization to the Korean War. A factor Talbot and Chung agree on may have been one of the reasons South Korea was off the radar for things like fashion. Featuring pieces like multicolor from the mid-60s, it spans into a more contemporary era. Sekdong Take things further with a designer Nora Noh dress. Chekgad Designer Lie Sang Bong’s jacket, tunic and pants released in 2017.
According to Talbot, the links between designers featured are “Korean traditions as points of inspiration for new expressions,” or designers who have taken advantage of the past to create for the present.
“what do you think it is [Lie Sang Bong is] This shows how Korean cultural heritage can be interpreted into the modern world.For example, some of the previous generation of internationally successful designers, such as Lee Young-hee, see her clothes and almost always recognize them as Korean. Know your ancestry Hanbok in them.So it’s like a literal reimagining Hanbok Or traditional Korean clothing,” says Talbot. Lee Sang Bong? Not really. In fact, the cut, structure and shape are invisible. Hanbok, but you can see the elements of Korean culture coming out. For example, one of the costumes we have has these very colorful patterns inspired by the architectural paintings of the Joseon Dynasty, so this is an aspect of Korean culture, and I don’t think it shows up in clothing. Not necessarily expecting it. He is probably best known in South Korea for his use of Korean scripts. hangul, As a decorative element, the show also emphasizes it. ”
According to Yoo Jin Cho, Ph.D. student and curator intern at the Textile Museum, there has been a growing interest in recent years in bringing the old into the new in terms of clothing. exhibition.
“In South Korea, interest in this modernized traditional garment has grown considerably over the past five years, with more amateur enthusiasts making their own clothes and many Koreans in their 20s making it more accessible. An online shop opened in the 30s,” she said, inspiring many to venture into what she called modern. Hanbok For everyday wear.
The government is also participating, creating school uniforms and civil service uniforms inspired by traditional Korean clothing, which will be part of the exhibit.
Cho, too, wants the fashion-seeking public to look beyond what K-pop has brought.
“Korean culture has been defined mainly as the very recent contemporary fashion worn by K-pop idols and a few street artists. [style] I snapped because of my exposure to K-pop culture,” she says. “And I want to show that Korean culture existed far beyond the modern culture that has become more available in the last decade or so.
According to Talbot, who began working on the current exhibition after seeing what he called a pre-pandemic “explosion of cultural content from South Korea,” South Korea is one of the most hipster countries in the world.
In a word, he owes it to “hybridity”.
“Koreans are really good at combining different influences to create something completely new. It’s not only in modern fashion, it’s in historical documents,” he says. “For example, influences from China come in and are very artfully incorporated and Koreanized into Korean outfits, creating a whole new look. Certainly seen in contemporary fashion that combines traditional and streetwear elements. [it’s] All of this comes together in a very unique aesthetic. ”
For those who may not be able to visit the museum, an international symposium titled “Han Musuk Colloquium for Korean Humanities: Korean Fashion” will be held in conjunction with the exhibition, virtual and in person, on November 5th. increase. GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs.