Seoul cemented its place as the current darling of the fashion world this week, when Gucci descended upon the South Korean capital to showcase the house’s Cruise 2024 collection.
The show was an ode to Seoul’s eclectic street style and wider Korean culture which has infiltrated the global scene (a trend known as the Korean Wave) and has seen the meteoric rise of K-Pop as well as the international success of Oscar-winning movie Parasite and viral Netflix show Squid Games over recent years.
The popular South Korean landmark – the Gyeongbokgung Palace – usually known for being crammed with tourists, was transformed to serve as the backdrop for the new collection through sleek neutral runways and muted lighting.
The set design put focus on the architecture of the historic building, and its contrast with the futuristic city skyline in the distance – a subtle nod to the dialogue between heritage and modernity within the show.
Throughout the collection there were some obvious references to the country’s rising international cultural capital (the Parasite soundtrack was chosen to accompany the show, for example) whilst elsewhere the name of the palace was brazenly written across the backs of T-shirts.
Meanwhile, there were some nostalgic references to the Gucci of the late 90s and 2010s – with shapes from the former and colourways inspired by the latter decade. As the last show before new creative director Sabato De Sarno takes the helm in September, it seems somewhat apt that the team were looking back, at the same time as looking forward to the futuristic city of Seoul for this collection.
In further proof of Seoul’s new social currency, the Gucci show arrived just weeks after Louis Vuitton’s own debut in the city. It’s no coincidence that luxury houses are honing in on this previously lesser-known Asian capital. The amount South Koreans spent on luxury products doubled in late 2022, putting the country in the number one spot for luxury spend per capita in the world.
Regardless, however, of the business acumen behind the luxury world’s eye on South Korea, in terms of creative sensibilities, the label’s Cruise 2024 collection certainly proved that the house of Gucci still has Seoul.