Exploring the theme Nostalgia, we found ourselves at a fashion showcase in South Korea, at the Cheongdam Building Sky Lounge in Seoul to see designer Hyemi Song's new collection for her brand SEO DAM WHA. Beautiful models dressed in colourful opaque layers, performed a dance routine encircling the space, their lightweight dresses swishing and turning.
SEO DAM WHA presented a very special live performance in the open air which left us completely entranced by a modern interpretation of a classic look. A Hanbok is a traditional Korean dress, originally designed to facilitate ease of movement. This concept was perfectly demonstrated in the performance as the models moved so gracefully. The structure of the Hanbok includes the Jeogori (jacket), Baji (pants), and the Chima (skirt). The Hanbok is instantly recognisable from its vibrant colours and simple lines without pockets. This style of dress was actually established during the Goguryeo Kingdom (37 BCE- 668 CE), and we were fascinated to find out that the design features have remained relatively unchanged to this day.
We interview designer Hyemi Song about the captivating evening...
While I prepared for this show, the most frequent question I heard was “Where is Hye-Yi-Ah?” or “What is Hye-Yi-Ah?” (Hye Yi Ah was the name of event.)
It is quite simple really. I put together names from the actress A-reum, photographer Raina, and myself, as we all organised this project together. I found it quite interesting to work with people in different fields but with the same interest. I was motivated by their passions, particularly in capturing traditional Korean culture and promoting the art of traditional techniques to the audience.
I was hoping that the audience would see the dance, hear the traditional musical instruments, and see the sky as an all-encompassing experience, as opposed to them being focused solely on the garments. We wanted to create a kind of collaboration with traditional culture, with the audience naturally enjoying being a part of the experience.
After the show had come to an end, I looked back at myself. And then, I realised I couldn't have done it all without the support. Although it was raining, everyone came to the show for me. Especially, the musicians, the dancers, and the make-up artists. Also, A-reum who played three roles as a model, a planner, and an actress- thank you so much! I am so proud of our team. We enjoyed the process even more than the result.
Designer Hyemi Song, upon graduating from art school, became acquainted with Myung Ja Kim, a skilled artisan of traditional clothes-making and sewing in Korea. Song has since become an accomplished Hanbok designer.
In the world of fast-paced factory manufactured culture, Hyemi insists on doing something different by keeping the traditional method of creating Hanbok with a handsewn technique. Her goal is to keep up the coexistence of tradition and modernity.
To maintain a style that is current, SEO DAM WHA creates new designs every season focused on the concept of customized rental. Nowadays Koreans don't wear Hanbok in everyday life, it's used for special occasions such as a wedding or celebration. It takes time and effort to customize individual pieces to the client, however, Hyemi is proud to provide high-quality modern yet traditional rental at affordable price for the customers.
The Micro Macro team had an incredible time at the event, experiencing such a rich culture. It was heartening to see how these garments continue to thrive and have been adapted for a new generation, to see how nostalgia has inspired modernity.