Wooyoungmi Menswear Spring 2024 Paris

Designer Woo Young Mi took guests on a journey under the sea and into the world of the storied female Haenyeo divers of Korea’s Jeju Island, and the island’s historical lore.

In the blue-drenched light of the Palais de Chaillot, the collection was calming. With a parade of black, cool sea shades and plenty of transparency that recalled water, Woo focused on adding touches of waves to her traditional sharp tailoring.

Here she used drawstring pulls to create a gentle ruching, a nod to 17th-century sailors shipwrecked on the island who later returned to Europe and told the West about Korea.

Woo is keenly aware of the shift in the world’s current obsession with all things K-culture since she began her collection 21 years ago. “The worldwide fascination with my country is thrilling to me. As a South Korean designer, I was always interested in cultures and history different to my own,” she noted. “Now I want to portray my own culture to the rest of the world from a South Korean perspective.”

Sometimes one can see more clearly looking in from the outside, and she pulled those forces together through the eyes of an expat living abroad, with a focus on traditional tailoring using neoprene that recalled wetsuits with neon piping, as well as transparent overcoats that revealed watercolor sketches of colorful jellyfish.

Woo added pop notes on accessories, as well as Korea’s love for the latest tech trends. To that end she added trainers designed using AI, in collaboration with Italian shoemaker Rai7000 Studio. These added floor-level heft to slim suits and resembled diving shoes.

On accessories, earrings wrapped the lobe or hung in coral-shaped glass, while oversize handbags doubled as underarm props and round shapes recalled pearls.

All in all, Woo’s steady hand added a new depth to her vision.

The Wooyoungmi Spring-Summer 2024 Collection makes Jeju its island muse. From a South Korean perspective, it prompts a premise of contrasts: Jeju, the raw and rocky coastal environment of the laborious haenyeo divers; versus Jeju, the sunny party island adored by the nation’s holidaying youth. The juxtaposition is expressed in an oscillating silhouette that clenches and releases from the skin. Scuba gilets, girdles, trousers and tops cut a body-conscious line contrasted by the relaxed fit of lightweight tailoring with little waistcoats founded in a 1980s’ summertime sensibility – a loose-fitting boyish spirit cemented in pyjama elements.

Styling: @jackborkett
Production: @eyesightgroup
Music: @frederic_sanchez@intrepidlondon
Casting: angusctmunro @clmagency
Hair: @garygill@streetersagency
Makeup: @lynseyalexander@jollycollective
Photo: @lucatombolini
Video direction: Paolo Pucci @indigitalimages


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