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Hanbok, reproduced from an 18th century painting.

Three years in the making, Couture Korea is the first major exhibition of Korean fashion in the United States and exclusive to San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum. On now through February 4, 2018 this fashion exhibit explores traditional Korean clothing from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) to the present. Included are reproductions and reinterpretations of traditional clothing as well as original modern works by top Korean designers.

The 120-piece exhibit covers three galleries starting with a look at tradition. What is Hanbok is the first gallery where we learn that hanbok is traditional clothing for men and women during the Joseon Dynasty, when modesty was the fashion of the day. For women the look was a high full skirt called a chima, paired with a longer blouse called jeogori, which would fit loose or tight. (The originators of layering.) Men sported a loose top, pants and a robe. Fabrics such as silk organza were used.

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Jin Teok’s reinterpreted  bridal robe.

Between East and West comes next and features designs by Jin Teok, including a video of a recent fashion show and a reinterpreted hwarot (bridal robe) combining  embroidered silk fabric with denim. Also in this gallery are pieces by Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld from his Korean inspired 2016 Cruise collection, which premiered in Seoul.

My favorite is the third and final gallery. From Seoul to San Francisco is all about modern Korean fashion. Featured are two trendsetting designers Im Seonoc and Jung Misun. Each woman is inspired by traditional Korean clothing but with an understanding of modern needs and desires.

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A new twist on tradition by Jung Misun.

A video interview with the two explains their different approaches. Jung Misun says that while she’s inspired by traditional silhouettes, the fabrics are too delicate and she finds that modern women want more comfort and ease. “If someone were to ask me to wear hanbok and I were to think of an uncomfortable aspect of it – it would be the fabric … Therefore I replaced the delicate fabrics of hanbok with everyday fabrics, such as knits and wool.”

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South Korean fashion designer Im Seonoc.

Im Seonoc is a sustainable designer dedicated to zero waste in her clothing production. She uses only neoprene (usually used for wetsuits), which creates a nice clear cut. Any leftover scraps are incorporated elsewhere in her designs. Instead of stitching she glues or uses high-pressure bonding for seams. Speaking with Ms. Seonoc, she told me she’s created her own neoprene – something lighter and even easier to work with.

There is something completely unique about Korean style. Simple, elegant, refined and hard to capture, which makes it ultra chic. Couture Korea offers a rare opportunity to learn about traditional and modern Korean fashions and how they connect.

It’s a must-see! I also recommend an upcoming panel of fashionables on November 19th, 1-2:30. Moderated by the San Francisco Chronicle style reporter, Tony Bravo the panel will include fashion trendsetters and designers discussing what inspires them. This panel is part of K-Fashion Bash – a day of events celebrating Korean pop culture.

What fun!

Click here for more information. 

 

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Jin Teok with her daughter Ro Sungun at the Asian Art Museum.

American fashion is very artistic and at the same time very wearable and good for the market, as well as the look. 

Jin Teok, South Korean fashion designer.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Teok and her daughter at the press preview of Couture Korea, the new exhibit on now at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Her fashions are included in this exhibit of modern and re-imaginings of traditional Korean clothing. I asked Ms. Teok her impression of American fashion.

Known for her reconstruction of the classic white shirt, Ms. Teok has been designing for over fifty years. She was the only Korean designer to be included among the top 500 world fashion icons in the UK publication, The Fashion Book (Phaidon, 1998).

Watch for more about Jin Teok and my review of Couture Korea coming out later this week on OverDressedforLife.

 

 

 

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Last week fashion brand Gucci announced that they will no longer use fur in future collections. The official comment from the company was – It’s not modern.

c13c28c6e72f13f53196076b39897233--lucy-lucy-i-love-lucyFor sure it’s not! No matter how old or young you are, nothing says “stodgy old lady” more than a dead fox or mink or rabbit dangling off a shoulder. Now, having said that I will add that lately some designers have been using dyed fur in bright colors and that definitely is modern. But faux fur works just as well. In fact, didn’t faux do it first?

With this decision Gucci joins Calvin Klein, Armani, Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger.

I’m thrilled that Gucci is taking such a stand and I hope it’s the beginning of a permanent shift away from fur in fashion.

 

 

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For all the ladies (& fellas) who love a beautiful shoe, have we got a film for you! Opening Friday, September 22, 2017 is …

MANOLO: THE BOY WHO MADE SHOES FOR LIZARDS

A Manolo Blahnik shoe can make any woman swoon. In this new documentary fashion journalist Michael Roberts gives us an up-close look the unassuming Mr. Blahnik and his journey from a little boy in Spain with a thing for lizards to world renowned designer. Included is commentary from fashion celebrities such as Anna Wintour, Rihanna, and Naomi Campbell just to name a few.

Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes For Lizards (Music Box Films) runs at the Landmark Opera in San Francisco and the Landmark Shattuck Cinema in Berkeley, September 22-29. Check theaters for show times.

Click here to watch the trailer.

 

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Congratulations to Chris Black who won Best Grand Picnic Site at this year’s Gatsby Summer Afternoon. As the picnic site judge it was my pleasure to recognize Chris’ attention to detail for her Egyptian Revival themed site, aptly named Temple of Hathor after the Ancient Egyptian Goddess of Love, Mirth, and Joy.

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Chris and her award winning Egyptian Revival Picnic Site.

In addition to how Chris handled her canopy (by nicely covering it up both outside and inside, including the ceiling) as well as adding charming touches like beverage glasses  painted with Egyptian images and papyrus plants, she also tied in her dress to the theme. All of that is what made her a winner!

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Photo: Chris Black.

A seamstress, Chris sewed her own 1930s-style dress using a pattern from Decades of Style. On Ebay she found the perfect reproduced vintage print fabric with hieroglyphics and pharaohs. It gets even better … the green buttons she used pick up the green in the dress and are truly vintage. A lucky find for Chris on Etsy.

Hats at Gatsby Summer Afternoon are a must and Chris topped her ensemble with a crushed crown straw chapeau onto which she added one of the dresses’ buttons. Love. It.

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Agatha Christie as inspiration. Photo: The Christie Archive.

Chris says that her inspiration came from a photo she saw of Agatha Christie: I’ve been collecting the vintage Egyptian prints for a couple years, but this pic of Agatha Christie in 1922 was thrilling because it’s an example of Egyptian Revival dressmaking that is not evening wear – you’ll see lots of beautiful beaded and embroidered frocks as well as coats on Pinterest, but I haven’t seen many casual prints like this in the 20s and 30s. Demonstrates to me that this trend extended beyond nightclubs and drawing rooms.

Thank you, Chris, for a job well done. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with next year!

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Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis in Feud: Bette and Joan.

I don’t know what we would have done without fabric painting. Since it was too time-consuming to locate the good vintage fabrics and prints, we relied on CADFab digital printing to replicate the fabrics we needed, From Baby Jane’s floral dress to Bette Davis’ 1978 Oscar caftan. 

Katie Saunders – Costume Supervisor on the television limited series, Feud: Bette and Joan.

Ms. Saunders was nominated for an Emmy for her work on Feud.

Congratulations to the winners in the costume categories last night.

Period Series: Michele Clapton – The Crown 

Contemporary Drama: Alix Friedberg, Big Little Lies

Variety/Non-Fiction/Reality: Zaldy Goco, RuPaul’s Drag Race

 

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Who are all of these people? I’m not against social media, but I don’t think the doors should be flung open wide so the whole world is at every presentation. It’s become a public convention. At times it feels like Comicon.

Ken Downing, fashion director and senior vice president, Neiman Marcus talking about fashion week.

Yeah, from what I hear New York Fashion Week has become an unpleasant madhouse.

Too many shows, too spread out (now that there’s no central location), and most of all – too many people, apparently, according to Mr. Downing, dressed like clowns. Also the shows never start on time. All this makes it very challenging for those who are  there just trying to do their job.

Oh, and did you know that some of the celebs sitting in the front row are paid to be there? Yep! According to the New York Times Beyonce gets $100,000. Julianne Moore only gets $60,000. (Don’t tell her … we don’t want any cat fights next to the catwalk.)

Meanwhile, the fashion powers that be are pondering the idea of opening up the shows even more and selling tickets to those willing to pay the big bucks. Traditionally one had to be invited and connected to the business – a fashion reporter, editor, buyer, retailer, etc. Or a friend or family member of the designer. Even today you must be invited. But, perhaps eventually the shows will become a real spectator sport and all you’ll need is a few hundred bucks to buy your way in.

 

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