Wooyoungmi: Menswear AW23

Paris Fashion Week Men’s was a rather hysterical affair. Every front row, from Dior to Kenzo, succumbed to K-Pop mania with hoards of young superfans swarming the doors, vying for a pic of BTSJimin and J-Hope or Taeyang of BigBang. The South Korean superstar is a fandom phenomena, assimilated into the Western mainstream and global markets by way of the digital age. But this rather sudden explosion of Korean style and adoration gave Woo Youngmi the confidence to finally bridge the balance of her designs which imagine the artistic exchange between Seoul and Paris – East and West – through a 21st Century lens.

For her AW23 show at Palais de Tokyo, Woo Youngmi drew inspiration from Hwarang, which translates to “Flowering Knights,” an elite group of male warriors from the ancient Silla Dynasty. Comparably, they were like the K-pop equivalent of the time with regard to their being crazy famous. Contemporary echoes of the jewellery worn by the rulers of the Silla kingdom, South Korea between 57 BCE to 935 CE, were magnified to sculptural dimensions and daubed along the lapels of classic gentleman’s tailoring and generational workwear – the illustrious shine a conceptual reflection of Seoul’s super-futuristic landscape.

Generally, the tailoring was exquisite. Roomy single and double-breasted blazers boasted a romantic silhouette, loosely informed by a Belle Époque sensibility but rendered through a utilitarian approach. Cinched in by chunky belts in leather and faux snakeskin, the youthful Y2K shapes native to Wooyoungmi’s early-2000s archives were recontextualized for the now before the historical premise of the collection crossed into Edwardian England with shooting jackets, padded coats and cargo-style stalking trousers. Playing with macro and micro proportions – expanding and contracting as such – sharp-shouldered overcoats played protagonist throughout, while the Korean-inspired banana-shaped legs of cotton sweatpants, fluid trousers and jeans were a fierce contender.

The designer, as always, identified with a Parisian fashion mentality here, not in spite of her Korean foundations but in admiration of them. She brought the history and style of both nations into the fold for AW23, and she did so beautifully.

Photography by Luca Tombolini. 

wooyoungmi.com

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