Glowing at the film festSo you’re going to Busan this weekend for the opening of that big film festival. You’ll be there with the glitterati of Asia’s film industry, hitting the parties, having fun.
But if you really want to make the weekend sparkle, take a bit of Itaewon Wanderings advice: Pretend that you’re not there to see the celebrities, but that they’re there to see you.
To make that work, you need to dress outrageously, so that you outshine all those snobby filmmaker types. You know, the ones who scowl if you call their works “movies” instead of “films.” The goal is to make them glower while you glow.
To really shine, think sequins. Go to the opening gussied up in a spectacular sequined dress or jacket, and just dare people to ignore you.
You’ve probably noticed that Itaewon has a bunch of party-wear shops crammed with gaudy dresses and bikinis, all sequined to the hilt. And you’ve probably wondered who buys that stuff.
Well, now you know. You do, when you want to rule the scene.
For women, the best place to score an outrageous dress is at a small shop called Gu Gui Bin. It’s on the main drag, a few doors east of the Hamilton Hotel, and its sign says “Betty Boop.” Go there and the owner, Hwang Jae-ui, will set you up.
I went to Ms. Hwang’s shop the other day to gape at the sequins and ask her to recommend a dress that my imaginary girlfriend could wear in Busan. Luckily for me, Ms. Hwang has a ready sense of humor.
She pointed first to a blindingly bright orange-and-white gown, with a swirly sequin pattern and a halter top, which sells for 350,000 won ($300).
I accidentally chuckled ― I couldn’t quite see my imaginary girlfriend in that! ― so Ms. Hwang thought again and pointed out a less garish dress, a flow of subtle reds, oranges and rusts, spangled with beads instead of sequins, and with shoulder straps. The price was higher, at 590,000 won.
I accidentally nodded, but was able to manage my way out of buying it.
Ms. Hwang’s shop only had a few men’s jackets, so I left and made my way over to Hooker Hill and Itaewon’s best shop for men’s party wear, Prince Custom Tailor. It’s halfway up the hill, kitty-corner from the hip-hop disco Club XO.
The owner of Prince Custom Tailor, Cha Jae-hyon, designs many of the wardrobes worn by Korea’s rich and famous ― he’s often away from the shop because he’s needed at the TV studios to dress up the emcees.
Walking into Mr. Cha’s shop is like walking into an art museum, with each of the jackets a canopy of bold colors and patterns. You’ll see one all iridescent with pink rhinestones, and another all blue and wooly with embroidered roses.
The shiniest jacket in the shop, though, and the one that draws the most attention, is one completely decked out in gold sequins.
A steal at 270,000 won, that’s what yours truly will be wearing to the international movie festival.
Hey ― stop glowering.
by Mike Ferrin