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Traditional hanbok was worn for both everyday and special occasions by men and women from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) through the 1950s when western clothing took hold. The basic silhouette for women was a full skirt, often made of silk or ramie, and a short jacket in solid colors. Any embellishment was applied, embroidery for example, along the edge of the skirt or the shoulder of the jacket.

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Traditional hanbok.

 

While in Seoul, South Korea I had many encounters with traditional hanbok on the streets, in museums, and the fabric market but I was interested in seeing modern interpretations by local designers. I had first learned of this trend last year at the Asian Art Museum’s exhibit, Couture Korea.

I heard about a shop that offers modern hanbok, so one day I set out walking through our neighborhood of Insadong and into Bukchon in search of Tchai Kim.

One hour and four tourist guides later (they had trouble too!), I found the elusive shop tucked inside one of the many little alleyways that are so much a part of Seoul. I was greeted by a friendly and helpful staff member, Kim Ujin.

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Kim Ujin standing with my favorite reinterpretation of traditional hanbok.  It’s the unexpected plaid that does it for me.

Ujin explained that the shop is owned by designer Kim Young-jin, who had learned how to make traditional hanbok from a Korean Master. For several years Young-jin custom-made traditional hanbok mostly for weddings but she began to realize that the label “traditional” was variable – hanbok in the 18th century was different from hanbok in the 19th cemetery and so on. Traditional Korean dress was ever-changing until it more or less disappeared. Young-jin felt it was time to bring hanbok back with a modern update and in 2010 she launched her ready-to-wear brand, Tchai Kim (tchai means different).

I was given a tour of various silhouettes all inspired by traditional hanbok of past centuries.

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Deoksugung Palace Guards, or actors who play guards. There is no monarchy in South Korea but there are five palaces in Seoul that, since 1996, hold reenactments of the changing of the guards.

 

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Here’s the cheollik dress with over-skirt.

One such silhouette particular to Tchai Kim is a dress based on the traditional cheollik, a one-piece tunic worn by men over loose fitting pants that were tied at the ankles. You can still see that outfit today on the palace guards. Designed originally for ease of movement, the reinterpreted cheollik for women offers the same ease for a busy modern lifestyle. The dress can be worn alone or with a pair of wide-legged pants or with an over-skirt as we see in the photo to the left.

Part of the traditional hanbok ensemble is the short wrap jacket, called jeogori. in solid colors. Young-jin has taken that idea and updated it with a v-neckline in cotton fabric and patterns such as plaids and polka-dots, shifting the look from youthful to sophisticated.

 

 

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There are many redesigns of the jacket. I tried on one that if worn in the U.S. would be considered very fashion forward but the inspiration behind Young-jin’s design makes the piece even more special. The pop of red embroidery (another Korean tradition) spelling out the name of the shop punches up the avant-garde factor. If I were to wear this jacket I’d mix it with vintage – 40s slacks and my signature suede shoes (look at my logo) and a grey or black beret with a red floral brooch attached.

The blending of traditional with modern is a marvelous way to move forward while honoring heritage and keeping it present.

Gamsahapnida (thank you) to Kim Ugin for taking time with me on that wonderful October afternoon! It was among the highlights of my visit to Seoul.

 

 

 

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Sketch of Duchess of Sussex wedding dress by Clare Waight Keller. Image by Clare Waight Keller.

We now have seen Meghan Markel’s (Duchess of Sussex) wedding dress and we know who designed it – British designer Clare Waight Keller, artistic director of the French house Givenchy.

I must confess that I did not get up at the crack of dawn to watch it all. Heck, I  like my sleep and I knew I’d catch up in the following days. I watched the BBC coverage of what Ms. Keller had to say about the dress. She went into some detail about the veil and how she suggested including flora and fauna of the Commonwealth. She recounted for the BBC reporter what she had said to the bride: “Wouldn’t it be amazing if we took the 53 countries of the Commonwealth and embroidered a flower and some floral and fauna from each one of those and they would go up the aisle, the journey up the aisle with you …”

In wanting to create “a little bit of a wild garden” included in the veil were orchids, forget-me-knots, thistle, and so on.

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Queen Elizabeth II Coronation gown. Designed by Norman Hartnell.

Hmm … this was ringing a bell. British designer Norman Hartnell did something similar for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation gown in 1953. I wrote about it for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The coronation gown included hand embroidered flowers of each of the Commonwealth – Tudor Rose, Thistle, Shamrock, etc. –  on the bodice and skirt of the dress. Great minds think alike in Great Britain!

Back to Meghan’s dress. For my two cents, I think it was stunning in its simplicity. I love the unusual boat neck and the 3/4 length sleeves were perfection. It was made from a double silk cady fabric, which is very stable and that allowed for the shape of the dress. My only quibble was the choice of white. Perhaps a little color would not have gone amiss. A pale blue or green for spring. There may be royal rules about such things, I don’t know.

The platinum and diamond tiara (on loan from the Queen) originally belonged to Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth’s grandmother. Keeping it minimal, the bride wore diamond earrings and a bracelet by Cartier. Again, some color here would have been a nice touch – rubies or emeralds. The look needed a pop.

It really was all about the veil and the best perspective on that was from above. It took many skilled workers and many hours to create. I read that each embroiderer stopped to wash their hands every 30 minutes to keep the white fabric white.

But what an honor to be part of such a significant event.

Congratulations to one and all! Now get some sleep.

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Day-Lewis sports his own look for the W interview photo shoot. Navy blue suits him. 

In the case of Phantom Thread, when we started I had no curiosity about the fashion world. I didn’t want to be drawn into it. Even now, fashion itself doesn’t really interest me. In the beginning, we didn’t know what profession the protagonist would have. We chose fashion and then realized, What the hell have we let ourselves into? And then the fashion world got its hooks in me. 

Daniel Day-Lewis, British actor, starring in the film Phantom Thread.

This quote is from an interview with reporter Lynn Hirschberg for W.

To prepare for playing the part of couturier Reynolds Woodcock (a fictional character) Day-Lewis, like all good actors, did extensive research. He watched 1940s and 50s fashion show archival footage and spent many months apprenticing with Marc Happel, head of the NYC Ballet costume department. He learned to sew and even … get this –  made a Balenciaga dress.

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Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock and Vicky Krieps in Phantom Thread. 

He found a photo of what he thought was a simple Balenciaga dress and decided to make it. Turns out it was not so simple but undaunted he sketched the design and went about draping gray flannel fabric on his wife, Rebecca Miller, who stepped in as a fit model. He says the hardest part was figuring out “a very particular gusset in the armpit.” By trial and error (always the way in sewing) he figured it out and lined the dress in what became Woodcock’s signature color, a pinkish lilac.

Very impressive!

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Follow OverDressedforLife on Instagram: overdressed4life

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christy-turlington-business-of-being-born_oywna4The best way to protect young models is to keep them in school and off sets until they are adults. But that’s only part of the problem. We need to teach our girls, and young boys, how to protect themselves and defend themselves against predators in every area of their lives. Sexual harassment can happen anywhere and at any time. In the playground, in school, on the bus, in crowded public spaces. Accepting this and preparing for it will help more of us know how to handle it when it does happen.

Christy Turlington Burns – 1980s super model, founder of the non-profit Every Mother Counts. 

This quote is from a Q&A with WWD.

Well stated. There’s a lot of talk these days about sexual harassment in fashion and elsewhere. I suspect that unfortunately, there are very few women who have not been sexually harassed. The severity varies but the impact is similar. Of course we mustn’t put up with it and we should fight it in every way we can, but I seriously doubt that we will ever be able to erase sexual harassment entirely. There will always be jerks in the world. So, Ms. Burns’ advice is good. Let’s teach our girls and boys how to safeguard themselves. While we also teach our children to see and respect one another as equals.

Everything begins with awareness and education.

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Photo: Alexi Lubomirski for Harper’s Bazaar, August 2017. 

I like it when I see people dressed on the street and it looks like Gucci but it’s not. It means you are doing something right. If you want to go to the store, that’s fine. If you want to go to the market that’s much better. Or if you want to buy just a pair of shoes and then you want to go to the market, it’s better than better. 

Alessandro Michele, Italian designer for Gucci.

A great message – mix it up. Expensive with inexpensive – vintage with modern – brand with no-name. Get creative!

Speaking of designers, fashion week is coming up in NYC September 7-13, 2017.

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Ayesha Curry

Ayesha has the best energy and is truly one of the kindest women on the planet … If she’s in LA, we might shift gears and do a short Isabel Marant dress or a Stella McCartney jumpsuit with a sexy heel or a cute bootie and layer a bunch of jewelry. In the Bay, depending on weather, she might throw on some high-waisted jeans, a bodysuit and a faux-fur jacket with a cross-body bag. Her look is chic, transitional, and real – just like her life.

Mary Gonsalves Kinney – San Francisco based stylist.

Ms. Kinney is speaking to the Nob Hill Gazette about her Bay Area celebrity client, Ayesha Curry (cookbook author and wife of Warriors basketball star, Stephen Curry).

I tip my hat to Ayesha for choosing faux-fur.

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