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Couture Korea

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation of Seoul partner to present the first major U.S. exhibition of historical and contemporary Korean fashion

Download a PDF copy of this Press Release: Short Press Release (Korean) | Short Press Release (English)

King Yeongjo’s outer robe (dopo), 2015. Reconstruction based on a pre-1740 garment. Silk. Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation. Photograph © Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation.

San Francisco, July 24 — From the courts of the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910) to the runways of Paris, Couture Korea immerses audiences in the splendid sophistication of historical and contemporary Korean fashion. The result of a partnership between the Seoul-based Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation and San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, Couture Korea introduces U.S. audiences to the incomparable artistry and artistic legacy of Korean dress.

The Asian Art Museum is the only venue for Couture Korea, which will be on view from Nov. 3, 2017 to Feb. 4, 2018. This original exhibition features more than 120 works, ranging from recreations of garments from the Joseon dynasty to contemporary designs from Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel, pioneer of Korean fashion Jin Teok, and two Seoul-based Korean designers. Couture Korea delves deeper than the clothing’s formal beauty and superb craftsmanship to show that these works, as art, are not only intimate objects but also cultural expressions. Visitors will come away with a rich understanding of the social and cultural roots, as well as the global impact, of Korean fashion.

Arumjigi, a group of researchers, scholars and artisans dedicated to the preservation, exhibition and promotion of Korean cultural practices, has prepared a range of garments for inclusion in Couture Korea that represent traditional Korean fashion: re-creations of kings’ robes made from fabric so fine it is nearly transparent, 18th-century courtesans’ ensembles, and children’s first-birthday costumes. In addition, contemporary styles created by worldrenowned Korean designers, including “master of deconstruction” Jin Teok (b. 1934), “tech” fabric impresario Im Seonoc (b. 1962) and understated traditionalist Jung Misun (b. 1984), will be shown alongside Korea-inspired looks from Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel.

Even in today’s ultra-modern, forward-looking Korea, traditional culture continues to be relevant. Couture Korea reveals how contemporary designs emerged from specific historical contexts and social customs and how many were influenced by traditional handicrafts and artisanal practices.

Couture Korea elegantly ties together the traditions of the past with contemporary clothing design to illuminate the ways Koreans — and global fashion aficionados — express themselves and their cultural affiliations through dress today,” explains exhibition organizer and Asian Art Museum Curator of Korean Art Hyonjeong Kim Han. “By guiding audiences in identifying the unique shapes, materials and colors that distinguish the spirit of Korean fashion, we reveal fashion’s critical role in defining Korean cultural identity now and in the future.”

Exhibition Organization

Couture Korea is co-organized by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and the Arumjigi Culture Keepers Foundation, Korea. Presentation is made possible with the generous support of Korea Foundation, Sulwhasoo, The Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Fund for Excellence in Exhibitions and Presentations, Warren Felson and Lucy Sun, Anne and Timothy Kahn, John Maa, M.D., Stephanie and James Marver, Suno Kay Osterweis, Salle E. Yoo and Jeffrey P. Gray, Lawrence and Gorretti Lui, and Ruth and Ken Wilcox. Support for the exhibition publication is provided by Sung Jin and Frank Ingriselli.

About the Asian Art Museum

The Asian Art Museum–Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture is one of San Francisco’s premier arts institutions and home to a world-renowned collection of more than 18,000 Asian art treasures from throughout Asia spanning 6,000 years of history. Through rich art experiences, centered on historic and contemporary artworks, the Asian Art Museum unlocks the past for visitors, bringing it to life while serving as a catalyst for new art, new creativity and new thinking.

Exhibition Hours: Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 AM to 5 PM. Closed Mondays.

Exhibition Admission: FREE for museum members and children (12 & under). On weekdays, $20 for adults and $15 for seniors (65 & over), youth (13–17) and college students (with ID). On weekends, $25 for adults and $20 for seniors (65 & over), youth (13–17) and college students (with ID). On Target First Free Sundays admission to the exhibition is $10.

General Museum Admission: FREE for museum members, $15 for adults, $10 for seniors (65+), college students with ID, and youth (13–17). FREE for children under 12 and SFUSD students with ID. General admission is FREE to all on Target First Free Sundays (the first Sunday of every month). Don’t miss a moment: @AsianArtMuseum


Press Release Types: Exhibitions, Programs & Events