The weird and the wonderful: portraits from Seoul Fashion Week

Twice a year, fashion enthusiasts flock to Zaha Hadid’s futuristic Dongdaemun Design Plaza to celebrate Seoul Fashion Week. Outside of the Spring/Summer 2020 shows, the space – located in the commercial centre of the capital – becomes a platform for hundreds of local and international street stylers. A kaleidoscope of bold expression and aesthetic statements emerge, told freely and unapologetically through an eclectic mix of superhuman, cyberpunk, ulzzang and K-pop inspired styles.

Amidst the creativity, a collective, unquenchable thirst to be captured dominates the event; a tangible urgency to document each and every look with an overarching sense that these vivid and wildly artistic outfits have been specially curated for both fashion week and for the cameras it attracts. Photographers adopt a paparazzi mentality in a hysteria-driven pursuit to capture those being captured and the youth of Seoul, dripping in ultracool looks, rule their movements. 

Opposing the individualist label often given to its generation, tribe mentality reigns as a notable theme. Friends move in fashion cliques; matrix cosplay, sharply suited with slick hair and heavy accessories vs matching, cutesy aegyo dresses with vibrant nods to K-pop and the popular motif of couple coordination, in bold prints and colours. These group identities evolve basic street style into performance fashion and DDP, in all its new generation glory, is most definitely their playground.

Audacious and spirited, everyone is exhibiting something of their own convictions in a playful presentation of what they believe is important. I and photographer Youngchul Kim went out to ask the people of Seoul Fashion Week about their unique looks, style icons and hopes and visions for the future of beauty.

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