Gucci’s proclivity for all things extraordinary met with South Korea’s famed hospitality and attention to detail this week, when a special parcel arrived at our doorstep. Wrapped in traditional Korean wrapping cloth called bojagi—a time-honored art form often used to mark special occasions—was the invitation to the Italian fashion house’s Cruise 2024 show in Seoul.
The colorful illustration adorning it was created by local digital artist Ram Han, who drew inspiration from the vibrant colors of the show’s venue, the Gyeongbokgung Palace, and its relationship with nature for the design. Depicting pine trees and butterflies which symbolize longevity, the gesture is one of many testaments, but perhaps the most artistic one to South Korea’s impressive growth while still holding on to its heritage. Another, which is also cause for today’s runway show, is the celebration of Gucci‘s arrival in Seoul 25 years ago via its first flagship store.
Over the years, it has become evident that South Korea is one of the key markets for luxury brands, and a new epicenter of culture as the Hallyu Wave sees fans of K-Pop, Korean dramas, food, and style growing in all corners of the world. It also helps that the country is close enough to markets such as China that were under lockdown and bound by Covid-19 restrictions for a long time, for Seoul to be the perfect location for today’s show where an Asian audience dominated.
The glorious Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was Gucci’s setting of choice to unveil the Cruise 2024 collection, is a landmark for culture and the contemporary. Built in 1395, the historical building was the main and the largest of five palaces constructed in the Joseon Dynasty, and located in the heart of what is now Seoul. Naturally, an impressive venue called for an equally impressive show, and the Gucci design team pulled through with a cohesive collection. This is despite the fact that the brand, at the moment, is yet to reveal the new direction of the recently-hired creative director Sabato de Sarno, who will present his first collection in September.
On the runway, looks reflected “hybridization”, a dialogue between “times and traditions”, and the remarkable way in which city life brings together fashion from different cultures. Models wore pieces inspired by Gucci’s 1990s archives rendered in colors from 2010 and the metropolitan style found on the streets of Seoul and cities around the globe, which are all connected digitally. Some of the designs showcased biomorphic motifs by artist Ram Han, and an interchange between the fabrics and techniques of formalwear with those of sports- and casualwear.
There were also transformable pieces with detachable sleeves turning into accessories, zips allowing trousers to change shape, bomber jackets morphing into evening skirts, and biker jackets that can double as coats. Seoul’s skateboarding and watersports culture also took form in some of the clothing with neoprene wet suit elements and accessories such as scuba-inspired colorful bags and boots reimagined as mules.
As for the energy, the Gucci woman navigated two extremes: a powerful bad girl wearing a leather dress and menswear-inspired blazers, or one blooming with glamour, as models wore sparkling numbers and a red dress wrapped in a blue satin bow. Adding drama to the presentation—and an important layer of cultural relevance—the collection unfolded to a moving soundtrack featuring the work of Seoul-based composer Jung Jae-il, who scored Oscar-winning films Parasite and the hit Netflix show Squid Game.
The runway’s excitement was mirrored on the show’s star-studded front row, which brought together global Gucci ambassadors such as Dakota Johnson, and the newly-appointed Alia Bhatt, alongside Korean superstars New Jeans, IU, Shin Min-a, Itzy, Woo Do-Hwan, Bibi, Ive, Irene and more. Also in attendance were Squid Game’s Lee Jung Jae, Hospital Playlist‘s Jung Kyungho, and The Glory‘s Lim Ji-Yeon. Stay tuned for more pictures of the celebrities in attendance.