In South Korea, A Touch Of Kink
At South Korea’s recent fashion week, which just wrapped in Seoul, naughty was nice. The hint of eroticism and kink that underscored some of the best shows of the international season—especially Marc Jacobs’ namesake show and his Fall collection for Louis Vuitton—has made it to the Far East, too. But here in Seoul, even hedonism is structured. High-end business meetings still include polished hostesses called gisaeng, Korea’s version of geishas, while a rising trend among bored matrons are loud clubs where women select their own boy toys. And fashion’s fantasy world was no different. The strongest shows at Seoul fashion week were inspired by the tensions between release and restraint that underscore Korean society.
Ha SangBeg, Seoul’s lovable agent provocateur, created a joyful collection inspired by Nobuyoshi Araki’s Kinbaku photos of erotically bound Japanese women and Azzedine Alaïa’s color blocking. SangBeg tied traditional black rope in a “beautiful bondage” pattern over body-con micro-dresses in neutrals (left) and neon and tangerine-hued men’s sweaters. The show took place in the W hotel’s chic Woo Bar, where a trio voguing after the show demonstrated another form of disciplined decadence. The frisson of S&M references also ran through less notoriously boundary-breaking collections. Little leather dresses with inlays of grey and brown suede at Lie Sang Bong Paris were sophisticated and slinky. Stunning cape-back silk minidresses at Kaal E. Suktae bore prints of belts and bound hands. And even the elegant upscale hipster label Johnny Hates Jazz featured pleated leather A-line and pencil skirts whose touch of kinkiness only emphasized their conservative cut.