Any discussion about the current globalization of Korean culture would be incomplete without an ode to the fashion. Tens of thousands of dollars are dropped on designer outfits in music videos, a key element of K-pop, and idols are rarely seen out and about in anything not remotely chic or trendy. In particular, we love how certain staples of French vogue are being increasingly married with the signature arthouse-casual streetwear of Seoul for a fun new look that is as urban as it is classy. Here we go through some of our favorite examples.
A French wardrobe is incomplete without a beret, just like this list would be without Irene of Red Velvet. You can hardly get more Parisian than a red beret; here Irene puts a fresh spin on it by pairing it with an oversized white button-down shirt half-tucked into ripped skinny blue jeans for an undoubtedly K-pop twist.
Irene is regularly seen accessorizing with a beret; this moment is one of our favorites due to the use of a rare desert brown. She picks the perfect combination of an understated grey drop-shoulder jumper and dark blue denim skirt (not visible in the picture) for a cozy yet classy aura. Special points for the use of a white pendant earring and rosy lipstick to perfectly balance the nouveau-vintage look.
Straight-cut Black Pants
K-pop queen HyunA takes a pair of black straight-cuts, similar to culottes - a look popularized by Coco Chanel in the late 1920s - and makes it urban-friendly by pairing it with black and white Puma platform sneakers. The use of a black T-shirt finishes off the French-inspired monochrome look.
Usually made of silk, the origins of the foulard can be traced back to East Asia. They can be used in a variety of ways, for example as a headscarf or a hair tie. Here former After School member turned actress Nana spices up the classic movie-star look by the use of bold colors – a signature of the Korean fashion industry – on her square silk foulard. The burst of color goes extremely well with her Bermuda shorts to add a mature summery flair to the minimalist look provided by the grey blazer and printed white T-shirt.
This take on the foulard isn’t just thinking outside the box, it is really more breaking it completely. And we love it. Shuhua of (G)I-DLE continues to add momentum to a trend that has been gaining popularity recently – the use of the humble silk scarf as a wrap-around tank top. The black tech high-waist shorts add balance to make the outfit street-friendly.
The Black Blazer
One of the biggest K-pop stars around, Taeyeon from legendary girl group Girls' Generation picks up the classic black blazer and takes it into a new dimension. Her blazer is oversize - a Korean hallmark. However, it also doubles down as a little black dress - another star of the French closet - and is held together by a thick studded belt. Together with the choice of makeup and the leather boots, this stroke of genius to foray into punk territory using a timeless classic blew us away.
Finally, few items of French clothing are as iconic as the fashion-redefining marinière. And few songs in K-pop are as iconic as BTS’s culturally impactful Spring Day. An integral part of Coco Chanel’s endearing legacy, the familiar long-sleeved blue and white stripes were donned by Jimin in the group’s ensuing music video. The top is given a decidedly Korean flavor through being oversized and drop-shoulder. The thigh-covering striped socks, turquoise canvas sneakers and acid wash ripped jean-shorts add a youthful excitement to the poppy look. Jimin’s dazzling pink hair completes the transformation from catwalk to beach.
The Korean and French fashion industries are arguably the two most trendsetting and influential today due to their minimalistic leanings (ft. a few well-timed splashes of color) coupled with the tendency towards comfortable yet elegant streetwear, making their clothing relatable to the average urbane dweller. In a world of ever-diminishing cultural boundaries, today’s K-pop stars are leading the way in meshing the two influences for a look that is in equal parts new and vintage.
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