Saturday, 3 March 2012

KCC UK A New Space Around The Body Review

As is becoming a habit of mine, after my Korean class a few weeks ago I decided to go have a look around the recently finished exhibition at the Korean Cultural Centre London where I have my classes. I personally really enjoyed the exhibition - very much more on my wavelength than the previous exhibition!! (see:  

Titled "A new space around the body", the exhibition is Korea's entry to the International Fashion Showcase Emerging Talent Awards 2012. It provides an opportunity to explore the more experimental and artistic dimensions of the South Korean fashion circuit. The event was established by the British Council and British Fashion Council and according to their website "[the event]...marks the London 2012 Olympics and honours the Olympic values of international respect, excellence, equality and friendship". 

The exhibition featured the works of 8 up-and-coming, innovative Korean designers including Ara Jo, JuHee Han, Katleen Kye, Minky Jaemin Ha, Minju Kim, Unbounded A WE by Laykuni, Yoolhee Ko and Yeashin Kim - all of whom are graduates from prestigious schools in both the UK and mainland Europe and were selected for their willingness to challenge convention.  

Co-curated by Ji Hye Hong (KCCUK) and Sofia Hedman (independent fashion curator), the works manage to combine highly sculptural, avant-garde creations with eye catching explosions of colour and use a diverse range of fabrics. 

Yonggi Won, Director of the KCCUK explained, ‘We are so very honoured to see the exhibition and the Korean designers take this prestigious award as Korean Fashion is an important part of the Korean Wave that is spreading across the globe. We are fortunate to have such a strong pool of talent to draw on as we have many talented young designers coming out of Korea now’.  
 The contemporary art installations pop out against a themed background that is reminiscent of traditional Korean doors, white cotton, hanji paper and totem poles with each capturing the eye and provoking the mind in a different manner. 

My personal favourite in the exhibition was the breath-taking work of Central Saint Martins graduate Minky Jaemin Ha who chooses to "explore the stages of capitalism in a person's life: birth, addiction, death and finally rebirth" through the bold use of colour and silhouette and has created masterpieces in the form of the pieces shown below. I really like the piece on the right which features an opened black cape exposing underneath a cut-out bodysuit made of coins....I don't even want to think how long it took to make but it's clear to all the immense effort that has gone into making it. 
Minky Jaemin Ha 

 Then there is the work of Juhee Han, another graduate of CSM, whose work is significantly more wearable than most of her peers. Han presents a preference for knitwear using techniques like crotchet and macramé in many of her pieces. Her use of gold elements, which echo the gold handles and knockers found on doors across London, is also present in many, if not most, of her pieces.  

Ara Jo is yet another CSM graduate who has already started to make a name for herself after working with the likes of Lady Gaga and Leona Lewis. She exhibited a slightly more mature collection than some of her other works though retaining her penchant for sparkles and sexy silhouettes. I really liked the pieces below...which, given an adjustment or too, wouldn't look too out of place on a night out...! 

Next is the work of Minju Kim who is currently studying in the fashion design department of the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Antwerp. Her second year project titled "Love Power" explores the idea of the many Korean girls who turn into "cute love machine girls" for boys in search of the 'one' which is echoed in her display. Famed for her designs which are "characterised by humour and imaginary worlds with an element of je ne sais quoi", Minju Kim doesn't disappoint. 

Along the main wall of the exhibition is a jewellery presentation of the works of rising star Yoolhee Ko. Her sharp-angled, wild geometric designs have been making waves in fashion circles and have earned her a strong reputation as a face to watch. Focusing on male jewellery, Ko describes the collection as an attempt to "explore the notion of cognition through a society fuelled by technological strides, we manage to exist through our links to the past..". By embedding her own experiences and perceptions into her designs, she hopes that the wearers of her pieces "equally reflective form of catharsis". While you can't try them on, the designs are definitely thought-provoking. 

Since graduating from CSM in February 2011 with an MA in Menswear, Kathleen Kye has gone from strength to strength. Characterised by using humour to challenge convention, Kye mixes smart streetwear with nouveau riche excess in her latest endeavours. With the design ethos of representing fun-loving shapes while maintaining powerful lines, Kye produces an interesting, visually captivating collection. If there's one thing that definitely ticks the box it's that 'ever-so-lightly touching on ridiculous' style that fits right into the fashion world of today!!

Unbounded AWE by Laykuni is the work of Won Jung Ku, who graduated from the London College of Fashion in 2011 with a MA in Menswear, firmly building on the strong foundations provided by her BA in Menswear from CMS. Ku presented a more 'Olympics' inspired sportswear collection. The 'A' in 'AWE' represents the designer while the 'WE' represents the public as Ku attempts to explore the imaginative communication between the two. Her vivacious, exciting collection has marked her as one of Korea's designers to keep an eye on!

Last but by no means least is designer Yeashin Kim, a graduate from the London College of Fashion with a BA in Womenswear, who names corals, wool, the aesthetic views of the Rococo period and the artistic works of Antoine Watteau as her key sources of inspiration. Having made a name of herself as one of Vogue UK's 'Best Fashion Graduates of 2011', Kim continues to design vivid pieces that combine asymmetrical bursts of texture and colour with mixes of beaded details, gloss and matt materials, creating unexpected harmony and proportion.  

Despite facing fierce competition from countries as diverse as Japan, Italy, USA and Estonia, Korea's entry 'A new space around the body' was presented with the 'Best Project Award' by leading fashion journalist Sarah Mower MBE, British Fashion Council Ambassador for emerging talent, at the ceremony held on the 19th of February.  Congratulations to all the artists! 

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