Seoul Fashion Week is a barometer of the present and future of Korean fashion. The recent fall/winter 2016 Hera Seoul Fashion Week comprised a full range of fashion events, from small presentations through to 41 catwalks runway shows, held in the Dongdaemun Design Plaza [DDP], which has become a global fashion landmark. Here, the nation’s leading designers showed their talent to the world.
Noah Nam, the much sought-after designer behind the brand NOHANT, showcased his innovative approach to design in his first runway show titled ‘The Hotel Nohant’. Featuring wearable but refined items, the collection primarily comprised wool in a chromatic colour palette with hints of rich khaki, gray, and burgundy. The loose, smooth silhouettes and pared-back styling demonstrated NOHANT’s signature modernity, and certainly won over the audience in this standout debut.
The collection of JARRET was rather interestingly titled ‘Love With a Vampire’, and true to the theme, the opening looks riffed on the classic combination of black and red, demonstrating a playful interpretation of the typically dark theme. The collection also featured various prints, quilt-like elements, and the successful inclusion of sportswear elements, adding a youthful quality to the collection.
A.AV, which stands for Another Another View, is a brand by Kwangho Lee, a renowned designer in the Korean menswear industry with more than 15 years of experience. Commercial yet creative, Lee’s collection married elements of the sensual with the practical, highlighting the brand’s innate wearability rather than clothes being made merely for show purposes. The designer’s skill was ably demonstrated in his use of high-end materials, a muted colour palette, geometric patterns and innovative textures.
The collection of Munsoo Kwon, an International Woolmark Prize menswear finalist, proved a standout of Seoul Fashion Week. From the dramatic silhouettes reminiscent of 1990s power dressing to witty lettering and bold colour combinations, such as camel and grey, Kwon’s collection demonstrated his skill in making traditional tailoring relevant for a younger customer. In many ways, the collection demonstrated the designer’s continual progression in the time since the International Woolmark Prize, evidence of the way it helps to grow the careers of emerging designers.
D.GNAK is a brand rooted in the traditions of bespoke menswear. Going beyond the mastery of construction in tailored menswear, designer Kang.D presented a kaleidoscopic runway presentation by boldly adding military- and streetwear-inspired elements to classic pieces. In dismantling and repackaging various sartorial histories, D.GNAK offered something entirely new for the menswear market.
PUSH BUTTON is always a guaranteed showstopper of Seoul Fashion Week, and for fall/winter 2016, designer Seung Gun Park certainly did not disappoint. For the season ahead, PUSH BUTTON offered a collection of irreverent playfulness, mixing and matching various elements of male and female dress, such as corsetry, tailoring, pyjamas and bows. But anchoring this collection was a refinement in the tailoring offering, so while daring silhouettes – sometimes oversized, sometimes cinched at the waist – colour palettes and styling proved youthful, many of the pieces were innately wearable, too.
HEICH ES HEICH
Behind the HEICH ES HEICH brand is Sang-hyuk Han, a designer well known for his raft of techniques and ideas that seemingly never runs out. For fall/winter 2016, the designer made subtle tweaks to familiar styles, cutting overcoats in cocoon-like shapes, adding twists to jacket sleeves, lengthening sweaters to tunic-like proportions, and rendering menswear pieces in playful colours such as baby pink. On a retail level, the jackets and coats are bound to prove successful for HEICH ES HEICH, with the quality and finishes more sophisticated than ever before.
Inspired by the concept of ‘bromance’ – a feminine play on traditional notions of masculinity – the BEYOND CLOSET collection was in tune with the mood of contemporary men’s fashion, with designer Taeyong Ko demonstrating his ability to straddle the line between the two worlds so as to communicate a new male beauty. Patchwork, witty cartoon patterns and tiger embroidery added to the individuality of the offering. That said, the collection did not lose sight of the pragmatics of daily life, with finely-tailored jackets, high quality fabrics, such as wool, and pleat-front trousers.
J KOO, another former International Woolmark Prize finalist, showed easy-to-wear styles that evoked the decadent, pleasure-seeking mood of the 1920s in a modern context, such as oversized sweaters with embroidered overlays akin to fringed flapper dresses. Other highlights included wool suiting with utilitarian detailing, such as cargo pockets, short-sleeved v-neck wool sweaters, and oversized cuffed trousers.
Having been highly praised in the Generation Next (Seoul Fashion Week’s platform for emerging designers) collection last year, the debut runway show of R.SHEMISTE looked to the grungy rock spirit of the 1990s, with oversized jackets, sweatshirts, denim inserts and mismatched separates reminiscent of Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain’s now-iconic wardrobes. The brand will no doubt be one to watch in seasons ahead.