Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Korean Wedding Gowns: Hanbok

New Fashion Trend?

Nicolas Cage has one. So does Britney Spears and Usher. What's the latest fashion craze that's a must-have for the Hollywood crowd? It's the Korean hanbok!

A han-what you say? Literally meaning "Korean clothing", a hanbok is the traditional ceremonial attire worn by women and men on weddings and other special occasions. The concept is similar to the Japanese kimono, although you would be unwise to call it the "Korean kimono", as Elle magazine discovered. The magazine received an irate letter from a Korean American after it mistakenly labeled a hanbok "kimono" and ran a correction shortly thereafter.

Cultural sensitivities aside, few will argue the bold beauty of the richly constructed hanbok. Although modern Korean women favor the western white wedding dress for the ceremony today, many will change into the hanbok for the reception to participate in traditional Korean wedding customs.

Hanbok Deconstructed
The hanbok for women is made of two basic pieces: the wrap-around skirt (chima) and the jacket (jeogori). Together they are often referred to as the chima-jeogori. For ceremonial wedding attire, the bride would wear a lime-green wonsam or hwarrot (also known as the flower robe) over the hanbok.

The skirt has a high pleated waistband wrapped with long sashes that ties around the chest. That's right, the chest. The result is an extremely voluminous effect, so if you're looking for something to enhance your figure and give you a slim waistline, this would probably not be the right choice of attire for you.

The jacket is short and bolero-style, with wide, slightly curved butterfly sleeves. An important part of the jacket is the ribbon that ties the front together. There's an art to tying this ribbon--only half of the bow should show, it should stay in a horizontal line on your left side and it should never stick up.

The beauty of the hanbok lies in the melding of the simple, clean lines of the skirt and jacket with the overall bold, harmonious colors and patterns. And short women rejoice--since the proportion of the skirt is so much larger than the jacket, sometimes up to four times larger, the hanbok will make even the shortest women look like she's got legs for miles.

The Korean Vera Wang

There are many designers today who are putting a modern spin on the historic costume. Acclaimed hanbok designer Lee Young-hee (http://www.lyhkm.org), sometimes known as the “Korean Vera Wang,” (http://fopsanddandies.blogspot.com/2007/03/couple-of-years-ago-i-went-to-fashion.html ) is known for combining elements of tradition and infusing modern color for her couture wedding line. The comparison comes from Ms. Lee’s attention to detail, flowing layers, and undoubtedly, the cost of one of her gowns. Her work is featured as part of the new permanent collection, The Korea Gallery at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/art/2007/07/148_4417.html). She was also the first Korean designer who participated in the Paris Pret-a-Porter show and introduced the hanbok to Westerners in 1993.

More Designers, More Choices

Other hanbok designers include Kim Hee-soo, who introduced a modernized sexy version of the hanbok at a charity fashion show at the Grand Hyatt Seoul Hotel, and Lie Sang Bong (http://www.liesangbong.com/index.php) who combines traditional hanbok trademarks such as ultra high waists and one loop bows in his pieces.

The hanbok, while steeped in tradition and history, has evolved in style to feature modern layers of flowing silk organza. The choice is yours if you are a bride in the market for a hanbok for your wedding. There’s beauty to be found in both traditional and modern styles.

Sadie Ballens is the founder of http://www.smashingbride.com, a place where you can find discount designer wedding dresses and accessories up to 80% below retail.

1 comment:

Libba said...

Thanks for writing this.