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Lotte Galleries unite for fashion extravaganza

Sept 05,2018
Designer Lee Shinwoo’s outfits are displayed at the Avenuel Art Hall in Jamsil, eastern Seoul, top, along with late designer Andre Kim’s dresses, left. “Code Stitch” takes a look at the integrated fields of fashion and art, above. [LOTTE GALLERY]
There are 11 Lotte Gallery branches across Korea - five in Seoul, two in Gyeonggi and one each in Daejeon, Daegu, Gwangju and Busan - but there has never been any single exhibition held simultaneously at all the different branches. Until now. For the first time ever this month, Lotte Gallery, or Lotte Galleries, presents its biggest ever project, the “Lotte Annual Art Project: Boundless Closet.”

Three exhibits will take place in Seoul and Gyeonggi, covering the past and present of fashion in Korea. The main event is held at the Avenuel Art Hall in Jamsil, eastern Seoul, at the World Tower branch, where the works of two first-generation designers stand as part of the “Double Edge” exhibit. The late Andre Kim and designer Lee Shinwoo have been selected as the two monumental figures from the early stages of the Korean fashion industry: the former a master of tailor-made haute couture and the latter an ardent advocate of ready-to-wear clothes.

The works of the two designers stand in stark contrast to each other within the exhibit halls, with Kim’s white dresses flaunting their femininity while Lee’s black outfits embody early experiments of androgyny - a theme perhaps too common these days, but not so much during the 1980s and ‘90s when she started her fashion career.

According to curator Kim Hong-ki, the decision to feature the two came not just from their contrasting styles, but also from an anecdote he heard from Lee about when the two master designers met years ago.

“With the financial crisis in the 1990s, my brand went down,” said Lee. “I was out with friends in Myeong-dong [central Seoul], when I saw Andre Kim. I obviously knew him, and we had met each other on a few occasions, but I hadn’t spoken to him personally before, so I couldn’t just go up and say hi. But then he saw me, walked over and hugged me. He said, ‘Please get back up, get back up.’”

“Double Edge” also features artist Kim Tae-gon’s wire sculptures at the Lotte Department Store’s main building in Myeong-dong. He has created installations in the shapes of dresses inspired by designers Kim and Lee. The installations change color with the LED lighting, on view for visitors of the department store to see.

The other two exhibitions, “Code Stitch” and “It Style,” look at the current fashion world and the artistic interpretations of fashion by contemporary artists.

“Code Stitch” takes place at the Cheongnyangni branch in central Seoul, and Anyang branch in Gyeonggi, featuring works by seven artists who have taken an element of fashion and expressed it through art. One featured artist is Cho Young-joo, whose videos show Korean ajumma [middle-aged women] wearing their best floral dresses and dancing to music. “I wanted to look at how these women’s femininity and youth is taken away from them, but they still keep those desires within themselves,” said Cho.

The works for “It Style” are placed across Lotte Gallery branches in Yeongdeungpo, western Seoul, Jamsil and Ilsan, Gyeonggi. Ten artists have painted on denim outfits, sponsored by casual wear brand Guess, each expressing their own unique style.

Other exhibitions include “Heill & Heritage” in Daejeon, “Fashion By Your Side” in Daegu, “One Day Art Met You” in the Gwangbok, Busan branch and “From Upcycle to Fashion” in Gwangju.

“This is the first time all of the branches in Lotte Gallery have worked on a single project,” said Lotte’s curator Sung Yun-jean. “We started with the theme of fashion and art, to keep faithful to the company identity of Lotte as a retailer and also the artistic side of the gallery. We hope to make this an annual event and we look forward to next year’s project.”

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]