Location: Korean Cultural Centre UK
Dates: 4 February – 15 March 2014
With London Fashion Week last month seeing Korean designers such as J.JS Lee and Eudon Choi becoming regulars at the biggest fashion events in London, the Korean Cultural Centre in London, UK has taken this chance to turn the Cultural Centre into a fashion haven!
“K-Fashion Odyssey exhibition documents the explosion of creativity springing from young Korean designers, graduates of the most prestigious fashion schools across Europe. Through five varied installations presenting films, garments and headdresses, the exhibition offers stories from the brightest, most exciting new wave of experimental artistic talents and their South Korean roots.”
This latest exhibition called K-Fashion Odyssey is a contemporary Korean fashion exhibition that forms part of the 2014 International Fashion Showcase (IFS), a global celebration of fashion that is developed by the British Council and the British Fashion Council to coincide with London Fashion Week. This is actually the second time that Korea is joining the IFS, the first time being “A New Space Around the Body” held at the Korean Cultural Centre UK in 2012 which actually won the British Council and British Fashion Council’s IFS Emerging Talent Award 2012. This year’s exhibition presents a selection of works from some of the most exciting young talents from Korea.
This exhibition, created by curators and exhibition designers Sofia Hedman and Serge Martynov as well as the many hard working people at the KCCUK, was designed to enhance the idea/concept behind the collections from the designers yet also tell a story about Korea. In the KCCUK Multimedia hall, you can watch interviews with each designers, a very significant part of the exhibition as each designer open up about their inner thoughts, reflections and reactions. You get to hear each designer talk about their work and pieces; a rare and very personal insight into each designer especially the elusive Narae Park. During the interview they talk about the inspiration for their pieces as well as their upbringing and Korean memories which reflect the Korean heritage in these designer’s processes.
The title K-Fashion Odyssey plays on the idea of a journey and you will see wooden boat sections and copper piping as a symbol of this voyage throughout the exhibition which ties all the designer’s collections together.:
“To resonate with the adventurous voyages the designers have taken coming from South Korea, one of the world’s largest shipbuilding countries, to Europe.”
And the stars of the exhibition are:
Kim is a modest designer who was originally interested in Fine Art before taking the plunge into fashion. For her final collection in 2012 during her time at the highly praised Central Saint Martins, she combines her love of art with fashion to create some stunning and unique pieces. Her first inspiration was said to be Miss Haversham in Great Expectations as well as “this girl who lives with the trees”. “The girl who inspires me is just an imaginary character, she might not be human and she is pure and free. I imagined her living in a forest where trees and flowers grow on her body. I thought this idea would be interesting to make into garments, and I really loved drawing trees and lines, so it was really fun working during the whole process. In fact, I was using lots of shredded and distressed lace for textures that look really like the trees, like the living trees that are still growing on her body.” ~ Chloe Kim interview with 1Granary
And here at the exhibition we get to see the result which are some truly striking pieces made up of bundles and bundles of delicate fabrics, bunched together to make some amazing textures. Along with all the pastel hues, the collection feels beautifully romantic and elegant. Chloe Kim’s collection has been described as romantic punk and her little corner of the KCCUK has been transformed into a beautiful heaven complete with fluffy clouds. The effort put into this exhibition is amazing and really brings the garments to life. Chloe has interned at major fashion houses such as Alexander McQueen and GILES Design Studio and these pieces reflect her amazing talent as they look like intricate pieces of art. On the half body mannequins, it’s hard to imagine how these items are actually dresses which can be worn, they just look like elegant and exquisite modern works of art.
“Chloe’s shredding of laces and unfinished skirts resonate with Korean drawing techniques, characterised by delicate lines and light colours.”
Gigi Jeehyun Jung
Jung’s work is wacky and edgy. Her nickname is “Giant Lady” due to her 175CM height but she’s a child at heart as she likes collecting toys and has what she calls, a creative humour ~ Source. Her final collection at Central Saint Martins is about childhood nostalgia and kidult which reflect her humour and personality. Inspired by Tim Burton’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Gigi says: “This is about eccentric man-child Pee-Wee Herman who embarks on the biggest adventure of his life across the US mainland, as he sets out to find his beloved bike when it is stolen in broad daylight. I analysed Peewee’s character and tried to focus on his tendency of childhood nostalgia. All box shaped garments are made bright, fun and colourful in leather, suede, fur and wool to express warmth and childish innocence. Moreover, to add a toyish and fun element, I put thousands of pins on the boxes to make three-dimensional shapes on the garment. And I made basic inners by digitally printing my own illustrations from research. I produced fun and cute accessories, which match with each outfit by using real toys. I put my all efforts into making fun and delightful outfits like the kidult, Peewee who has a childish and pure mind.” ~ From CSM Womenswear 2012 profile
When you first enter the exhibition you are greeted by GiGi’s very interesting head piece which really reflects her style; playful and colourful yet chic and wearable, it definitely won’t look out of place in some of London’s trendiest districts. At this exhibition you get to see Gigi’s childhood nostalgia in all its glory. With little toy trinkets dashed everywhere as well as some extremely imaginative accessories, Gigi’s collection is said to be a tribute to her ancestors, where South Korea is known as one of the hardest working countries with an exhausting work culture, here Gigi is giving all the adults a break:
“… a tribute to her ancestors tireless efforts to bring Korea to the forefront of cultural and technological development at incredible speed. She wanted to “allow these adults, even just for a moment to reclaim their lost childhood fantasies.”
Gigi puts a lot of thought into her fun, bright and colourful pieces. When adorned, they make the models look like giant dolls and toys and definitely would not look out of place on the set of a Tim Burton film!
Hyein Seo says her current inspirations are: “Teenager movies, school uniforms, and street and hip hop culture” ~ Space 15 Twenty. You can just about imagine how awesome and cool it must be in her mind. Seo is currently doing her masters at Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium and her last collection which we see displayed at this exhibition is entitled Fear Eats The Soul, described as a mixture of old horror movies and street wear. Seo says: “This year my collection started off with this cinematic character with a unique atmosphere from old horror films. Because of it’s old fashion effect, I feel more humorous than scared. In those movies, there’s always beautiful a rich woman who becomes the victim. She wears luxury fur coats with lots of jewels, red lips, pale skins. It’s cliche for horror film heroines, but then I wanted to make this woman young and contemporary. So I mixed this gothic horror atmosphere with street culture, yet it has humor in it.” ~ Space 15 Twenty
Seo’s pieces are wearable and totally spot on for the trendy streets of London, in fact it feels very British as it reminds us of a time of anarchy and British punk rock; when Carnaby Street was the hangout for mohawks and Dr Martens. Featuring fabulous over-sized fur coats, bomber jackets injected with bright colours, in your face graphics, bold patterns and the uniform creeper shoe, these upgrades to retro classic pieces is bang on trend at the moment. It’s for the cool gang of kids with rainbow coloured hair who spends their weekends watching cult classics such as The Rocky Horror Show and Clockwork Orange.
One of her coats even made an appearance in Big Bang GD’s Crooked MV which was shot in trendy Shoreditch and a similar version of this coat can be seen on display. Recently we have also spotted CL wearing Hyein’s white fur coat during a performance (source).
Hyein Seo links : Antwerp Profile
Park’s collection has been described as ‘ Very Chic Korean Cleaning Lady’ (source) and reflects Park’s interest in sustainable fashion. Park is another student from Central Saint Martin and her collection featured a very interesting use of everyday items such as buckets, laundry bags and even a bright pink mug as a hat! But Park’s piece don’t look like crazy budgeted student art projects, we’ve all seen that plastic bag dress. Instead Park manages to make all these recycled plastic material into high fashion pieces with interesting cuts and beautiful prints, they could easily pass for high fashion couture.
[Narae Park's] work explores the plight of child labour and hybrids of sizing, fitting and application of industrial materials such as tarpaulin and neoprene. ‘Heung’, the emotion of cheerfulness, is running as a current through Park’s work. She portrays a labouring child still able to smile in her harsh reality.
Who knew a bucket could be so trendy! Park’s creativity is admirable and we can’t wait to see what she has planned for her next collections if this is what she can do with “rubbish” materials! Narae’s collection creates a new dimension to Fashion, bringing social awareness and philosophical undertones, her pieces are beautiful on many levels.
Narae Park Links: Website
Rejina Pyo is said to possess the “rare ability to design both commercial and experimental lines” and here we get to see her more experimental collection that was commissioned after winning the Han Nefken Fashion Award, as well as a video of her St Martin’s graduation catwalk show which is eccentric to say the least, showing she really has a pizazz for “Art Fashion Pieces”. The pieces at this exhibition from the collection entitled ‘Structural Mode’ and is considered a statement collection which plays on the boundaries between wearable garments and art; turning these beautiful garments of fashion into works of art and beautiful sculptures. These pieces displays strong use of colours and the hues really remind us of the colours often use in Korean Hanboks as well as the simple yet bold colour blocking style.
But Rejina show she’s talented in all areas as her commercial and more wearable collection is also getting very popular after being sold in London department store Fenwick. A fellow Central Saint Martin’s graduate, Rejina was able to fulfil her dreams of building her own label after winning the Han Nefken Fashion Award. Rejina’s commercial pieces are often described as effortless, clean cut and pro-powerful women. The strong lines in her garments create elegant silhouettes and are all beautifully simple and classic. Rejina states: “The REJINA PYO aesthetic is effortless, intelligent and quietly confident. My woman is at the top of her chosen field, bright and interesting with a strong presence. Someone who knows what she wants.” ~ Interview with Flux Magazine. Her SS14 collection is now available in stores!
This exhibition has given us the opportunity to see some amazing fashion pieces from designers who will no doubt become big names in the fashion industry, as well as how the rich Korean culture is playing a part in inspiring these young and emerging designers. Make sure you keep an eye out for these names in the future!