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Fashion Takes to Battle, in Frocks That Remember the Korean War

Artists and designers come together at Korea’s International Fashion Art Biennale to showcase works adhering to the “War and Peace” theme in memory of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.

Fashion usually shies away from tackling politics too directly. But from Nov. 19 to 28, the Korea Fashion & Culture Association hosts the International Fashion Art Biennale in Seoul, the first of its kind in Asia. Its “War and Peace” theme encapsulates the 60th anniversary of the Korean War and the G-20 Summit, which Korea also hosts this month. Over 120 artists from more than 20 countries will showcase their work in fashion, painting, sculpture, video, dancing, and mime. Those hailing from the 16 countries that aided Korea during the war, as well as those from the G-20 countries, were specially considered. Here, we showcase some designs to look forward to.

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Designer Holly McQuillan of New Zealand, one of the first countries to respond to Korea’s call for combat assistance, will present two no-waste dresses, shown in the picture up top, depicting “War and Peace” typography at the Biennale. They look like any other shift you’d see in Williamsburg or Silver Lake these days, but the pattern cuttings actually spell out “WAR” and “Peace.”

Youngin Kim’s sensuous dress design is named “Garden of Peace.” As the name suggests, its aesthetic is airy and simply relaxing to look at. Adhering to the Biennale’s theme, it showcases six colors from the national flags of the 21 members of the United Nations who participated in the Korean War.

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Frédérique Morrel chose to create a deer ” reminiscent of Bambi ” out of tapestry fabric to represent the vulnerability, sorrow, and disorientation of war victims. Disney’s Bambi, appropriately enough, came out just after the start of the Korean War.

“Fashion is not associated with this kind of political thing very much,” McQuillan says. “I remember reading years ago someone wrote that fashion has no place in making a statement about anything and it really riled me up because I was like, ?Why not??”

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About the author

Jean Kim is a freelance writer in New York City. Her interests include digital media, fashion, food, art and all culture.

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