Seoul Fashion Week fall/winter 2019: Bizarre and laugh-out-loud moments from a first-timer

Seoul Fashion Week fall/winter 2019: Bizarre and laugh-out-loud moments from a first-timer

Giggling and frayed nerves

Text: Ryan Sng

I'll admit that, when I first found out I was attending Seoul Fashion Week, I didn't think I would ‘get' K-Fashion; after all, the K-Pop, K-Drama and streetwear waves of the last decade had largely passed by without this old biddy's notice. All it took, however, was a couple of shows before I was deep into it; there's nothing like seeing clothes in person, on a person instead of hanging limply on a hanger or mannequin. The runway offers the element of movement, through which the drape of fabric is allowed to truly shine. You also get a 360-degree, three-dimensional view that even a phone screen with the best video capabilities could only ever suggest.

Show after show, as the exits breezed by, I found myself wondering what the clothes looked like on the inside, or if they would feel exactly how I imagined. For the first time in a long while — the daily rigours of design school can do much to dampen one's enthusiasm for fashion — I felt the same curiosity for cut and finish that I once did when clothes-making was still a mystery to me. My experience of SFW, however, was far more than just a rekindling of my love for the business of making fashion.

From my first time at a fashion week abroad, I will always remember:

That time I got triggered by a runway soundtrack.
Cacophonous music on the catwalk came as no surprise to me (these young'uns and their untz untz songs!), but there was a single disturbing exception; peppered liberally throughout the Kanye tracks at one show was the spoken phrase "You're dead to me"; I didn't fly all the way to Seoul to be reminded of my coming out. Rude (I kid. My family and I got there — eventually).


That time a pair of ajummas convinced me I had journeyed to a lawless, Godless country.
Like interloping cuckoo chicks remorselessly pushing their nestmates to their deaths, a totally shameless duo of little old ladies walked up to the front row seats they clearly felt they deserved, ripped the name labels off, hid the evidence in their handbags, and hunkered down for the show. Two thirds of the way through, they decided they liked their original seats better, and darted between models like two bandits seeking cover in a Wild West shootout.


That time another ajumma completely invaded my personal boundaries.
Pre-show, guests trickle in at a very genteel pace, but post-show, it's all-out shoving for the — usually tiny — exits. At one point, a petite woman behind me got the idea that by aggressively thrusting her hips against my derrière, she might reach the vibrational frequency of another dimension and phase through me to the exit. I felt violated through all three layers of my outfit that day.


That time an influencer and a photographer destroyed my faith in romance/rom-coms.
She had a pink bob haircut and was wearing a silver, tinsel-fringed kimono dealie. He had round glasses and wore a zip-up nylon windbreaker. When they got caught on each other, I thought to myself: "Am I about to witness a literal romantic entanglement?"

If Nora Ephron love stories and my sketchy understanding of K-Dramedies serves me well, such brief, awkward encounters always lead to a full-blown relationship. Alas, she just looked furious, he appeared more than a little miffed himself, and with a yank and a grunt (that sounded way more suggestive than I intended) they had separated and run off in opposite directions without so much as a glance back; my maiden ship had sunk long before it left the port.


That time I saw the walking definition of a fashion victim.
One pretty show attendee — who was in a carefully multi-layered outfit and very trendy mini bag on the front row — was visibly liquefying under the lights. She couldn't remove any articles of clothing else she ruin her ‘look', and no cooling apparatus imaginable could fit in her micro carrier, so, summoning all her resourcefulness, she began vigorously fanning herself... with her smartphone.


The many, many times that I felt I maaay have been sent to cover wildlife/animal behaviour, instead of fashion shows.
At times, taking in the circus outside the runways felt like going behind the scenes of a wildlife documentary. Dozens of cameras intently followed decked-out little kids milling about the place, as their parents kept close watch and gently directed them to pose and look adorable.

Meanwhile, flamboyantly attired grownups preened like randy birds of paradise against the railings of Dongdaemun Design Plaza, hoping to attract as many lenses as possible; only instead of obeying deep-set biological hardwiring to shake tail feathers, hop side-to-side, or drum their beaks on hollow tree trunks, they were driven to "look away from the camera!" or "walk towards me slowly!".

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