For all the drama you gotta put up with when you live in the San Francisco Bay Area — the hyper-inflated housing prices, the nerve-wracking traffic and the occasional tremblor — on the positive side, one of the most exciting, interesting cities in the world is nearby.
Yesterday I drove across the bridge to hang out with my friend Cindy and visit the Asian Art Museum, which is in the city’s Civic Center neighborhood (free parking on Sundays!). There’s a special exhibition going on now called Couture Korea, in which contemporary fashion designers create their own interpretations of traditional hanbok, the formal clothing worn during Korean holidays and special occasions.
“Beginning with ‘What Is Hanbok?’ (traditional Korean clothing), the exhibition examines history and tradition. Emphasizing mid- to late-Joseon dynasty clothing of the elite class (yangban), the varied and sophisticated hanbok in the Osher Gallery highlight proper ways of dressing for men, women, and children, with garments expressing social status, changing seasons, and special occasions or milestones in life.
The reproductions of hanbok in this gallery are based on wide-ranging research, including recent archaeological discoveries. In some cases, portraits and genre paintings are valuable sources for re-creating clothing of the past. Excavations of Joseon tombs in recent years have revealed many types of costumes that were used to dress the deceased. The conserved garments have served as primary sources for the re-created works throughout this gallery. Artisans at the Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation in Seoul employed authentic, historically accurate processes and production methods as well as historically appropriate fabrics for making traditional Joseon-period clothing. This research continues, reconstructing and reinterpreting the hanbok tradition, ushering in a new era of knowledge of fashion history.