Korean Couture Pops on World Stage

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'Couture Korea' at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is the first major exhibition of Korean fashion in the United States. (Photo: Courtesy of Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation)

We’re all familiar with K-pop by now, but Korean fashion is on a similar path to world domination — and it’s on the runway, so to speak, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco with Couture Korea.

With more than 120 works, the exhibition is a paean to the exquisite craftsmanship, signature silhouettes and bold aesthetics of Korean clothing from the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910) on.

Contemporary designers who've been inspired by Korean tradition get a look-see; the high waistlines, flared sleeves and brightly colored patchworks of Karl Lagerfeld’s 2015/16 Cruise Collection for Chanel were influenced by Joseon dynasty fashion and art, such as bojagi wrapping cloths. Also on view are pieces by pioneering Korean designer Jin Teok, lauded by Vogue’s Suzy Menkes in a must-read review as a “fashion magician” who evokes the spirit of historical Korean dress with an embroidered top from a wedding robe layered over a washed denim skirt.

The exhibition also introduces two younger Seoul-based designers reinterpreting Korean fashion for the 21st century: Im Seonoc and Jung Misun.


Couture Korea is co-organized by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation in Seoul, Korea. Details here.