Unlike the well known Japanese kimono and Chinese qipao, the Korean hanbok has enjoyed little recognition, especially in western circles, until recent years. Hanbok in Korean literally means Korean clothing. However, the term is most often used to refer to the traditional garb style that evolved over the Joseon period (circa 1392-1910). Today, the female hanbok is characterized by two main pieces – the chima, a wrap skirt that fastens around, or just above, the bust and an accompanying jeogori, a blouse / jacket that most often falls just below the bust. The chima is typically worn full and long atop lush layers of petticoats while the jeogori is fitted to the body and worn atop the chima to create an overall bell-like silhouette. As for the more surface characteristics… Korea’s most renowned hanbok designer Lee Young Hee points out, rather than embroidery, which was traditionally reserved for royalty, “Hanbok is all about color… The color is the design. It’s not about what’s stuck on…”*
While today, hanbok is primarily reserved for semi-formal or formal events like weddings, funerals, and first birthdays – fashion designers like Lee Hye-soon hope to reacquaint the Korean population with the beauty of their traditional garb, all while positioning the hanbok as both an item of desire and everyday wear. As for the international community, over the past decade, the hanbok has burst onto the scene through designer collaborations with photographers and publications like Korean Vogue, where the unique beauty of their lines have spread like wildfire via social media and blogs.
Whether it’s the lush layers, ample forms, beautiful color blocking or a more elusive combination of factors… there is no doubt that this centuries old garment has struck a chord, especially among the design set where designers like Dior and Carolina Herrera are turning out hanbok influenced designs and icons like Giorgio Armani and Miuccia Prada are well-known fans. As for those uninitiated in the exotic charms of the hanbok, we invite you to join the gorgeous party with D’s curated selection in varying shades of traditional and modern. Above – a traditionally-inspired dress by Suk-Hyun.
A sherbet colored hanbok featured in Vogue Korea.
Hanbok dress design by Suk-Hyun.
Photographed by Kim Kyung Soo for Vogue Korea, Full Moon Story, (2008), shows off hanbok style right down to the toes.
A hanbok bridal gown in tiered layers of silk. Photo via MyWedding Designhouse.
Photo from Kim Kyung Soo’s Full Moon Story, (2008) series featured in Vogue Korea.
Hanbok design by Suk-Hyun.
Photographer Kim Kyung Soo’s Full Moon Story, (2008) featured in Vogue Korea.
Past meets present and east meets west in this Vogue Korea spread featuring model Lisa Cant.
Stunning, if slightly non-typical, winterwear via MyWedding Designhouse.
Model Daul Kim in hanbok for Vogue Korea, January 2006.
Design by 담연 이혜순 (Damyeon Yihye Son) worn by 발레리나 김주원 (ballerina Kim Joo Won). Photo by 박세준 (Baksejun).