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#overdressed4life

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Dress & skirt inspired by traditional Korean embroidered wedding robe with peony, phoenix, and butterfly motifs and combined with denim. Jin Teok, 1995. This piece was part of the Couture Korea exhibit.

My mother’s generation greatly valued tradition in fashion. Until the day she died, she kept her hair in a bun, as women did in the Joseon Period (1392-1910). She made her own clothes with different materials for each of the four seasons. She wore durumagi, a traditional Korean overcoat, made of silk fabrics called myeongju and jamisa in jade green. In winter she wore cotton-padded durumagi, a scarf made of silk, and rubber shoes, which I used to wipe clean whenever she was about to go out. I grew up in such a traditional family. 

Jin Teok, renowned South Korean fashion designer.

This quote is from the essay, Creating Contrasts in Korean Fashion by Jin Teok from the catalogue for Couture Korea, the exhibit at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum in 2017.

One of the things I noticed when I visited Seoul, South Korea was the contrast of traditional and modern – in the architecture, the food, the old and the young people – existing side by side. Seoul is very much a mixture and in that way it’s fascinating.

Jin Teok started her fashion career in 1965 and has been called a “pioneer of Korean fashion.” Known for blending the silhouettes and motifs of traditional Korean clothing with modern fashion, Teok designed the uniforms for the Korean 1988 Olympic teams and a few years later she designed the Asiana Airlines flight attendant uniforms. She has participated in many international fashion shows, putting Korean fashion in a global spotlight.

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Youngmin Lee and Steph Rue.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the opening reception of From Fabric to Paper, an exhibit of works by bojagi artist Youngmin Lee and hanji artist Steph Rue at The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in San Francisco.

 

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The two artists were recipients of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. This exhibit features both their individual work and the pieces they worked on together over the summer.

 

 

Bojagi is traditional Korean wrapping fabric and hanji is traditional Korean handmade paper. Ms. Rue says when she was in South Korea studying hanji she constantly saw bojagi, which is made of fabric scraps and used to wrap gifts, store things, and carry objects. Once something common and used every day, it has now become an art form. Intrigued, she wanted to learn more.

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Indigo Study. These are traditional pouches men would have carried in the Joseon Period (1392-1910) in Korea. These are made with mulberry paper, silk, and ramie fabric.

She says she was excited to have the opportunity to work with Ms. Lee, who is considered a master in bojagi making. With a degree in fashion design Ms. Lee came to the craft after moving here from South Korea more that twenty years ago. She says that living in another country moved her to the traditions of her own culture. Now, she shares her knowledge of, and passion for bojagi by teaching classes all over the Bay Area.

This is a lovely exhibit and well worth a visit to The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in San Francisco, 3500 Clay St. @ Laurel. On now through December 27, 2019. Open hours are Monday-Friday 9-5. And it’s free.

On another related topic: today (October 9th) is Hangul Day in South Korea. Hangul is the Korean alphabet. Koreans celebrate their alphabet because at one time there was no written Korean language and only scholars could read and write Chinese characters. Hangul was created by King Sejong in the 1400s to allow everyone the opportunity to read and write in their own language.

Hangul Day is a national holiday in South Korea.

Happy Hangul Day!!

 

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Reconstructed woman’s hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) based on a 16th century garment. Ramie, polyester, and silk. From Couture Korea exhibit, San Francisco Asian Arts Museum 2017.

Traditional Korean clothing is imbued with many kinds of beauty: natural, understated, symbolic, elegant, and exotic. Of these, natural beauty is the most important. Since ancient times, Koreans have found pleasure and happiness in nature rather than in attempting to conquer nature, and this may be reflected in Korean fashion. As seen in its full-flowing and ample shapes and rhythmical curves, Korean clothing stresses comfort and natural style, unlike the closely fitting, structured silhouettes of its Western counterparts. 

Cho Hyo-sook – vice-president of Gachon University in South Korea.

This is a quote from Hyo-sook’s essay Clothing in Harmony with Nature, which I read in the catalogue for Couture Korea, the 2017 fashion exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

One year ago this month I traveled to Seoul, South Korea on a ten day textiles tour. What an adventure it was and still is as I continue to read and learn about Korean history and culture, in particular the traditional crafts.

I like Hyo-sook’s comment about the importance of nature reflected in traditional Korean clothing and the idea of enjoying nature instead of conquering it. I think we are now, with Climate Change, suffering from the results of decades of trying to control nature.

As I see natural beauty in Korean clothing, I also see control and restriction in western clothing or at least western clothing of the past such as tailored suits, fitted dresses, buttoned up shirts and ties, vests, and so on. Modern clothing is much less restrictive but the production of it is a major polluter to our sadly ailing earth.

 

 

IMG_20190922_160622Don’t be afraid to be appropriate. It has become a dirty word in fashion and style talk. But for me, being appropriate means simply being in touch with the moment. When you are in touch with the moment, with yourself, you communicate effortlessly. 

Isabel Toledo (1961-2019), Cuban-American fashion designer.

 

This is a quote from Toledo’s 2012 memoir, Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love, and Fashion (Celebra Books).

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One of the many illustrations by Ruben Toledo in Roots of Style. 

I recently reread this book, which tells the fascinating story of the Toledos – both of whom immigrated to the US from Cuba as children. They met in high school and later forged ahead in their careers as a couple in 1980s Manhattan. Ruben Toledo is an artist and fashion illustrator. His charming illustrations are a highlight of the book.

As for the quote, well, I of course completely agree. Dressing appropriately shows presence in the moment whether that be a wedding, a funeral, a graduation, an expensive restaurant, the theater, the opera … it matters.

 

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Recently I popped into a clothing boutique that I visit maybe three or four times a year. Sometimes I buy, sometimes I don’t but, I’m always open.

The lone saleswoman was pleasant but completely uninterested in customer service. I explained that I know the owner and have written up the shop a few times and handed her my card. Although this wasn’t an interview, as I looked around I asked a few questions and I got friendly but short responses because the very nice woman was  more  interested in … texting. Yes, she was focused on her phone and continuing what I can only assume was a very important text conversation.

Not only was I a potential customer, I’m a fashion writer! It seems to me that part of the job of a salesperson is interacting, right? Tell me about the new merchandise, tell me about what’s coming in for fall. Tell me what you’re excited about or what I should be excited about. That’s how sales are made. Maybe not right then, but next time when a customer needs something she will remember that helpful woman in that charming boutique. In my case, often I will walk into the shop with no intention of writing about it but I get inspired and that can result in a post and/or a mention on Instagram and that equals free publicity! Not to mention, I just might make a purchase.

By contrast I had gone into another women’s boutique a few weeks ago and met a lovely saleswoman who chatted with me, noticed what I was looking at and filled me in on the details – “… those pants are all cotton, screen printed in Japan.” Twice I’ve posted that shop on Instagram.

Retail is hurting, we all know that. Thanks in part to the popularity of Internet shopping, bricks and mortar are shutting left and right. All the more reason for shops still open to step it up when a customer walks in, and keep in mind that they can walk right back out with a good or a bad impression.

IMG_20190828_123730It used to be about logo, logo, logo, big name, big name, big name. Now people can easily wear a t-shirt from Zara holding a Louis Vuitton bag. 

Xia Ding, President of the Chinese online retailer, JD.com.

Oh gosh, the whole logo thing. In doing some research on Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, I discovered that there are serious collectors out there. Women who buy logo bag after logo bag, wallets, pouches, and apparently LV and Chanel maintain their value while some of the others do not. I watched a few videos of women discussing what to look for in the secondhand market. To see how much these women own was kind of off-putting.  OK, one or two but dozens? We’re talking a lot of money and these women don’t look like Rockefellers.

Personally I like an understated quality handbag that doesn’t scream brand or designer. I’m always switching out my handbags, which vary in size and style. I have a small vintage collection that I use on certain occasions. I do own one well known brand, Coach. I like the older styles that echo Bonnie Cashin’s designs. There are four in my closet, all from the 1990s and none have the Coach logo. One was a gift from my bother. One was a find at TJ Maxx at half the retail price, and another my mother picked up at a thrift store. Then there is the really special Coach bag that I saved up for and bought myself. I appreciate and use each one and I have no desire for another.

To each her own … that’s what makes fashion and style so fascinating.

 

 

 

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Gatsby Summer Afternoon at Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate.

Another Gatsby Summer Afternoon has come and gone. The 35th for the Art Deco Society of California and the very first for many attendees. This event is growing in popularity as more and more people want to experience the grace and elegance of the past.

Over 1000 enthusiasts gathered at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate in Oakland for a picture perfect sunny day of dressing up, dancing, picnicking, and meeting other like-minded people.

As a picnic site judge I don’t have much time for snapping photos but I managed some and here they are. Enjoy!

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Winners of the Best Grand Picnic Site.

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Winners of the Best Petite Picnic Site. Fifteen-year-old Brendan dressed himself and his parents. He’s been collecting all things vintage for four years and is currently taking Charleston dance classes, hoping to enter a future Gatsby Summer Afternoon Charleston contest. For his picnic, he baked ginger bread using a 1934 recipe, which was Walt Disney’s favorite.

Congratulations to all the contest winners and to the ADSC for another successful year. It’s a lot of work to put on this event. Thank you Event Chair Diana Brito, Heather Ripley Former Chair and Advisor, Heidi Schave, ADSC President and Advisor, and Marie Riccobene, Former Chair and Advisor. Thank you also to the ADSC board members and the dozens and dozens of volunteers who make the day possible.

Save the date for the next Gatsby Summer Afternoon, September 13, 2020 (always the second Sunday in September).