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Seoul Fashion Week at Dongdaemun Design Plaza — 동대문 디자인 플라자에서 서울 패션 위크

Back in March, Korea’s fresh fashion styles were showcased at the 2019 Fall-Winter Seoul Fashion Week (SFW). For a total of six days, the city’s coven of models and fashionistas participated in a mass-display of this season’s new looks and styles for streetwear, athleisure, and casual apparel.

Held bi-annually at the architecturally-unique Dongdaemun Design Plaza 동대문 디자인 플라자 (DDP), SFW aims to break into the top global fashion weeks — which are currently held in Paris, Milan, New York and London — as well as discover and support new designers and overall strengthen Seoul’s fashion industry.

There are many events held at the DDP during Seoul Fashion Week, including — other than the fashion show itself — trade shows, brand exhibition booths, seminars with experts of the fashion realm and small-scale promotional fashion shows for participating brands and designers.

©2016 SFW by Tycho Atsma, 31.05.2019, unsplash.com

Outside of SFW, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza also holds the Seoul Modelist Contest, a program that aims to award and give support to both designers and models by running overseas study programs, internships and hosting survival fashion shows for up-and-coming designers — thus nurturing Seoul’s fashion-minded creatives.

Since the Dongdaemun Design Plaza — currently run by the Seoul Design Foundation — plays such a gargantuan role in supporting designers and the city’s fashion industry, it comes as no surprise that this important and iconic location is the venue for Seoul Fashion Week — an event where both innovative designers and lovers of fashion come to share their individual styles and trendsetting apparel.

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Despite being one of Seoul’s most popular and Instagram-worthy attractions, at its official opening back in 2014 the Mayor of Seoul called the Dongdaemun Design Plaza — created by genius architect Zaha Hadid — an “unbalanced” and “ugly sight”, claiming that the building didn’t complement the surrounding area.

©DDP by KS KYUNG, 31.05.2019, unsplash.com

Whatever people’s opinions were back then, we’re sure their minds have now changed given the overall success of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza — especially since it has since been credited for boosting Seoul’s reputation as a global fashion city.

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Before they can even step foot in the DDP Art Hall — the venue for all the main fashion shows — photographers and spectators are greeted by models and guests who are keen to showcase the latest evolution of Seoul Street Style.

In intimidating groups and stylish duos, these fashion-forward creatives queue up around the plaza in their leopard-print jackets, oversized pants, bright neon colours, bucket hats, plastic handbags, dyed hair and meticulously detailed ensembles — ready to show photographers and onlookers alike what Seoul has to offer to the rest of the fashion world.

©2016 SFW by Tycho Atsma, 31.05.2019, unsplash.com

Among the glitz and glamour that swarms DDP during every fashion week, a common sight these days seems to be smaller-scale fashionistas — with snacks in hand and their parents close by — who manage to steal the spotlight from the ocean vibrant models and dedicated disciples of Seoul’s fashion scene.

©2016 F/W SFW by Tycho Atsma, 31.05.2019, unsplash.com

Seemingly unfazed by the intense energy that Seoul Fashion Week creates, and equally unbothered by the swell of photographers around them, children from the ages of twelve to as young as one-year-old pose with one another in their colourful, stylish and care-free outfits.

Children also taking over the runway, strutting alongside models for the FOLLET X YOUSER collection — pictured below.

At this year’s Fall-Winter SFW, even fashionable parents were rocking matching outfits with their children — which offered a refreshing taste of modern outfit options and styles for those other than avant-garde models and young trendsetters.

©FOLLET X YOUSER, 2019 F/W Seoul Fashion Week, 31.05.2019, seoulfashionweek.org

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Ripping Apart Stereotypes

Like art and music, fashion has always been a form of self-expression and creativity as well as a means to expose designers’ ground-breaking, mind-twisting stylistic concepts to the masses — whether their audiences are prepared for it or not.

And it’s the same when it comes to Seoul Fashion Week. Here, amidst the buzz of models and ever-flashing lights, there’s one aspect we always anticipate the most: how designers morph stylistic tropes and subvert gender stereotypes with their collections — a matter which is still rather taboo in Korean society, even in the very fashion-forward capital of Seoul.

During the 2019 F/W Seoul Fashion Week shows, designer brand Caruso 카루소 — who specialise in Italian-crafted suits and men’s formalwear — featured their male models wearing colourful flower printed shirts and suits, loose, flowy pants, shirts and skirts — all of which are commonly reserved for women’s fashion.

The collection also featured a line of patterned aprons, which challenged the notion that the kitchen is only for women.

©CARUSO, 2019 F/W Seoul Fashion Week, 31.05.2019, seoulfashionweek.org

Another collection that aimed to challenge traditional menswear was by London-based brand Cottweiler.

In their collection dubbed “The Lost Art of Cruising” — which portrays how technology has created a rift in human interactions — British designer-duo Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty, the creators behind the brand, had their male models sporting crop-tops and open shirts knotted at the front — showing how one can subtly subvert masculine dress codes.

Though it may not seem like it, subverting dress codes is still a key issue on the women’s front of fashion as well and one garment that stood out to us in particular was by IKE 이케 — a Korean brand by designer Park Ikje (박익제).

©IKE, 2019 F/W Seoul Fashion Week, 31.05.2019, seoulfashionweek.org

Focusing on garments that deconstruct streetwear and aesthetics that emphasise the female silhouette in less overt ways, we were delighted to see a simple white dress shirt and tailored navy pant set during IKE’s show.

Although it doesn’t seem as exciting as other pieces in the collection, it was definitely refreshing to see a female model in such a minimalist and cutting suit look — as opposed to other ‘women’s’ suits that try to make the designs more feminine by using traditionally ‘female’ colour pallets or designs such as frills and ruffles.

Overall, we were blown away by the simple beauty of IKE’s piece as well as the other designers’ collections.

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Celebrity Participants

Since SFW is the hottest time of the year for Seoul’s fashion world, it’s common to see many K-Pop and K-Drama idols both in attendance and as models in the shows — which, this season, included actors Sung Hoon for Caruso and Lee Sung Kyung, the only female model used, for BEYOND CLOSET (pictured below) as well as PENTAGON’s Shinwon for Studio Seong.

©CARUSO and BEYOND CLOSET, 2019 F/W Seoul Fashion Week, 31.05.2019, seoulfashionweek.org

Other celebrity attendees for the 2019 F/W Seoul Fashion Week included:

  • Taemin (SHINee)
  • Jimin (AOA)
  • Hyemi and Moon Hyuna (9MUSES)
  • Choi Sung-hee “Bada”
  • Jinyoug (B1A4)
  • Sehun (EXO)
  • Hyuk (Vixx)
  • Eunjung, Hyomin and Jiyeon (T-ARA)
  • Seohyun (Girls Generation)
  • Wendy (Red Velvet)
  • Weki Meki
  • Nam Tae-Hyun (South Club)
  • Yoon Mirae and Tiger JK
  • Park Si-Yeon (Actress; ‘The Greatest Marriage’ and ‘The Last Night)
  • Lee Da Hee (Actress; ‘I Can Hear Your Voice’)

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Feature Image Source: ©DDP by Farrel Nobel, 31.05.2019, unsplash.com

Claudia Deborah (이보라)

Book-dealer by day—writer by night. Instant coffee, Thai food and trot (뽕짝) music get me through the day. "나 생명은 조금 심심하고 단순하지만 나 인생은 한 번이야. 그래서 저는 단순한 일상에 감사함을 느껴."

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