Seoul Searching

Seoul Fashion Week round-up

IF a group of Seoul's best designers banded together and stormed London Fashion Week, it could prove a style moment to rival the one memorably staged by the Antwerp Six. Way back in 1988, this network of Belgian graduates from Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts - which included Dries Van Noten and Anne Demeulemeester - drove to London in a rented truck and became "immediate darlings of the fashion world" upon displaying their collections at the British design Show. Meanwhile, Seoul Fashion Week - a week-long event of catwalk shows which was recently staged in the Republic of Korea's capital - revealed that there is ample talent for a second coming.

In all, 76 designers - including General Idea, Lie Sang Bongand Nosungun - unveiled their work. This overwhelming number meant it was impossible to see everything, while the at-times amateur catwalk theatrics - such as models dramatically smoking cigarettes (Seoul's public places are not yet smoke free zones), and the somnambulant pace of some shows - made sartorial excellence instantly recognisable.

The best clothes at Seoul Fashion Week reflected the feel of this emerging city. They were as luxuriant and meticulously tailored as the latest architecturally masterminded sky scrapers and mammoth luxury boutiques which line its bustling, traffic-clogged thoroughfares. And while the leaders of Seoul's fashion pack did not display startling originality, their work at once evoked an affinity to fashion-forward western dress modes and a distinct eastern flair, which should make it commercially viable on an international scale (see the shows here).

Seoul, it seems, is forging its own fashion identity and witnessing the process proved exciting.


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