Fashion Goes Back to the '80s for Angelic and Naughty InspirationFebruary is the month to go shopping for spring and summer clothes. Out on the sidewalks of Seoul street cleaners are busy clearing the abstract snow sculptures that formed during the last heavy snow fall, as Korean department stores and boutiques strip down their mannequins to display this year's hottest fashions.
Against Korea's long, dreary winter the hopeful mood of an early spring is conveyed by the refreshingly colorful shop front windows. This year's vogues are two strikingly contrasting flashbacks to the '80s: Good Girl versus Bad Girl.
Contrary to some fashion commentators' predictions that matte black would be making its comeback, vivid colors and bold patterns will dominate the scene. Fall and winter of last year were all about animal prints, leather and furs.
Spring/summer this year is the season of flowers and fruit: hues of orange, kiwi, grape and apple come to the fore. Splashes of fruity color are everywhere, matched with short or long skirts, over slacks or jeans or as a spring jacket or skimpy bikini. Primary colors swirl together to form wild flowers against a moss green lawn.
Along with solid colors are either horizontal or vertical stripes, most about an inch thick, reminiscent of the sailor's look of the mid-1980s.
Good Girls will polish their image in simple dresses cinched with wide belts and clean-cut suits with matching shoes and bags. The most noticeable trend in accessories of the season are shoes and bags decorated with thin piping in contrasting colors － black and white or beige, for example － and the wide belt comes with a large metal ring.
While Good Girls go for bold geometry, Bad Girls opt for tattered creativity. Who's that bad girl everyone tries to emulate? Madonna. Harking back to the pop diva's "Material Girl" image, fishnet stockings are all the rage. Worn-out all-American denim, glittering stars and stripes, racy lace tops and corsets make the 1980's glamorous look complete.
As suggested by Christin Dior's haute couture spring/summer 2001, women are set to stun in a creative coordination of the Wild West and glamorous diva looks.
When Korean designers Kang Jin-young and Yoon Han-hee presented up-and-coming looks from their popular brands OBZ럫 (pronounced "obeuje" in Korean) and O'2nd (pronounced "o'z second"), they were in sync with the Paris trend. The show's central theme, "Star," was spelled out on the backdrop in a blaze of light bulbs and super sexy models strutting the catwalk in glamorously decorative outfits.
OBZ럫, famous for dressing Korean celebrities, favored the Good Girl theme for the new season. Women were donned in feminine and colorful garb, like Ungaro's muses in Paris. Meanwhile O'2nd, a sub brand of OBZ럫, went all out for the Bad Girl. And weren't they bad － super-short hot pants, glittering black corsets and see-through tops complete with black fishnet stockings.
Can the Good Girl and the Bad Girl get along? That really depends on how things are arranged for them. The fashion magazine Elle Korea put together in its February issue the elements of both good and bad by cleverly mixing reserved stripes (by VOV), a pair of sedate leather shorts (by Park Yoon Soo) and black fishnet stockings.
The Bad Girl image in Korea, though, doesn't seem militant enough. While European vogue is dominated by the tough yet sexy military look replete with various camouflage patterns, in Korea fashion designers and fanatics want to play it safe with a vampy style without adding military motifs, at least for the time being.
But with Korean fashion being as capricious as the spring weather, who knows what Korean women will wear next season? They just might want to go to fashion war with another new look.
by Inae Cho