GWU’s Textile Museum showcases Korean fashion, old and new

Gerard Ortiz


There is a rationale the examples of 15th-century apparel appear so glamorous in “Korean Manner: From Royal Court docket to Runway,” at the George Washington College Museum and the Textile Museum. The sleekly customized and gold-embellished outfits are truly costumes from the 2011 strike South Korean Tv sequence “The Princess’s Gentleman,” a interval romance that took some liberties with standard Korean garb. The real historical things in the present are subtler, but no less intriguing.

These dubiously correct get-ups aside, “Korean Fashion” handles a very little much more than a century of the nation’s apparel. The oldest merchandise are royal and aristocratic garments that were exhibited at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. (Like a lot of objects proven at that event, they then entered the collection of the institution that grew to become the Industry Museum.) It was the very first time that Korea, recognised from 1392 to 1897 as “the hermit kingdom,” participated in a world’s honest.

At the time, Korea upheld the rigorous proprieties of neo-Confucianism, so extravagant garments and self-expressive trend have been not appropriate. Korean clothes, known as hanbok, denoted social position, but did so discreetly. Hues were being muted and adornment was unusual. Extra prominent men and women distinguished them selves with the luxurious good quality and elegant detailing of their hand-woven and hand-assembled attire.

While Korea is culturally quite shut to neighboring China and Japan, hanbok is singular. Its distinct products consist of billowing skirts, black stovepipe hats and women’s jackets cropped so superior that they’re small much more than sleeves. Of the 19th-century attire in this selection, the items that look most like the clothing of Korea’s neighbors are ornate bridal robes embroidered with images of bouquets.

If the 1893 expo was the first time Korea displayed hanbok to the environment, it was also a little something of a very last stand for the nation’s regular apparel. In 1895, the country’s officers switched to Western garb, and hanbok became reserved for specific occasions, as the show’s curator, Lee Talbot, notes. (A more wrenching change arrived in 1905, when Korea commenced the changeover into remaining a colony of imperial Japan, which imposed its culture and language.)

The top rated flooring of this two-tale exhibition is devoted to the contemporary period, notable for hallyu, the “Korean wave” of enjoyment and style that surged past South Korea’s borders. Two online video screens document new K-pop performers and today’s youthful streetwear, respectively, though a 3rd features a speedy-cut record of South Korean vogue from the close of the Korean War to the 1990s. This includes shots of an official law enforcement crackdown on lengthy hair for guys and brief skirts for women of all ages through the 1970s.

Among the much more new objects are 1980s hanbok-model togs for little ones — produced in shiny hues, for the reason that this kind of shades are supposed to shield little ones from evil — and hanbok-inspired modern school uniforms. There is a quilted jacket designed by Julie Lee, an American lady who in 1959 married 1 of Korea’s last crown princes, and sleek attire by Nora Noh, South Korea’s to start with main postwar lady designer.

An additional dress on screen was devised in the 1990s by the designer identified as Icinoo (a phonetic contraction of Lee Shin-woo), a person of the to start with South Koreans to present a assortment in Paris. It is traditional not in outline but in product: hanji, or handmade Korean paper.

Also on show are illustrations of bojagi, which is created of colorfully decorated fabric but not meant for donning. The adorned wrapping cloths, which have been created in Korea for at minimum 600 years, are utilised to deal items and for many other ritual uses. The display features some illustrations of updated latest bojagi, as nicely as a bojagi-encouraged dress crafted in 2016 by the German designer Karl Lagerfeld, longtime creative director of Chanel. That striking robe represents Korea’s extended journey from hermit kingdom to global vogue trendsetter.

Korean Fashion: From Royal Court to Runway

George Washington College Museum and Textile Museum, 701 21st St. NW.

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