• Text Liam Hess
  • 24th June 2018

All the young dudes

“I wanted to present a new version of Bowie”, explained Katie Chung, the creative director of Wooyoungmi after her show. Since taking over the reins just last year, Chung has dictated a new chapter in the brand that dipped its toe in the waters of international fashion long before Seoul became a booming capital of east Asian style. Her mother, Madame Woo, who founded the label back in 2002, was on hand to oversee the new direction Chung has taken. 

Chung has put her own refreshing, youthful stamp on the label with impressive ease. Where others describe their collections with a rehearsed fluency, Chung’s inherent curiosity means you can see the cogs whirring as she formulates her answers — it’s endearing to meet a designer who approaches their work in such an instinctive, synaptic manner.

It’s that very curiosity that led Chung to David Bowie as a teenager growing up in Seoul: while the city might be known for its blurred gender norms today, back then things were more conservative. It’s easy to dismiss on the basis that Bowie has been over-referenced, but two years after his passing, it’s been a while since menswear delved into his archive and Chung explored it with intelligence and sensitivity.

Instead of taking the idea too literally, she chose instead to capture Bowie’s bohemian, playful spirit. The collection contained everything from sunflower yellow and pistachio suits to a dramatic bomber made with an iridescent nylon: this blend of tailoring and streetwear has became almost ubiquitous, but Chung executes it with a singular panache. A particular highlight was a series of blazers that had straps on one breast that sensually tucked under the other like a harness, and the flamboyant styling detail of diamanté chokers put a hedonistic twist on the beautifully cut jackets.

Chung is clearly having a lot of fun at Wooyoungmi, and it shows. These are clothes that raise a smile, and a Bowie tribute is always welcomed round these ends.