News and Events Japanese Studies Resources About the Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies
EVENTS: The Colors of Pride -- the Korean Traditional Costume Fashion Show
The Korean Traditional Costume Fashion Show was held at Los Angeles' Millenium Biltmore Hotel on Nov. 7, 2003, commemorating the Centennial of Korean Immigration to the United States

EVENTS: The Colors of Pride -- the Korean Traditional Costume Fashion Show

Dignitaries and businessmen gather at the Los Angeles Millenium Biltmore Hotel for the Korean Traditional Costume Fashion Show

Joaquin Farinas Email Joaquin Farinas

Photos by Minnie Chi

The colors were vivid and sharp, a total collision of primaries and hues; the models as regal and ceremonious as the clothes that draped and adorned their shoulders. Drums beat to a slow tempo as the models slowly negotiated the runway. Through it all the audience sat silent, a sense of pride filling the void left by the silence. Friday night represented a flashback to a time of pomp and circumstance, a time of honor and tradition, a time when more truly meant more.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Korean immigration into the
U.S., 50 of Korea's top designers teamed with dignitaries and Koreatown businessmen to bring the splendor of Ancient Korean fashion to the runway Friday night, November 7, 2003, with recreations from as far back as the fourteenth century. The strictly black-tie affair was held at downtown's Millennium Biltmore Hotel.

The ceremony held two purposes: an introduction of Korean heritage and an exclamation of pride. Representatives of the Korean Chamber of Commerce, Korean Cultural affairs, Korean Television Enterprises, The Korean American Federation of L.A., in addition to prominent businessmen in the Korean community were among the attendees.

After dinner was served, big-screen televisions initiated the events with a montage of Korean-American pride. Images of successful Korean businessmen, athletes and entertainers adorned the screen to illustrate the success of Korean emigrants. The montage also held a somber moment as images of the L.A. riots and news coverage of the racial conflicts between Koreans and African-Americans in South Central Los Angeles were featured. As the montage ended the moderators presented the crowd with the first wave of Hanbok, or Korean dress.

The show was divided into three segments, each representing a different style of Hanbok. The first segment represented the traditional dress of Royalty. Featuring several types wedding and holiday gowns worn by queens including the Chijeogui and the Hwarot; the gowns were a testament to the richness and elegance of Imperial Korea. Each gown had a strong emphasis on red or yellow with an opulent hand-embroidered golden trim.

As the first segment reached its finale, drummers and dancers entered the stage to demonstrate traditional Korean entertainment. Each dance move and each drum stroke was meticulously performed, the patience on the entertainers face apparent.

A giant gong announced the beginning of the second segment. The second wave represented the fashion of the military and scholars. Where the royal Hanbok put an emphasis on bright colors and embellished trim, the fashion of the minds and muscle of Korea was stark contrast with its solid colors of white and brown.

The third wave offered a refreshing change of pace. The final segment offered samples of everyday Korean wear. A sharp reversal from the solemnity of the royal and military wear of the first two segments, the night ended with a note as light as the silk and linens that made up the commoners clothes. The colors were much lighter than those of the preceding clothes and it was as if a parade of pastels floated across the stage. Approving murmurs broke out as the everyday fashion was presented. This was the fashion of the common man, whose ancestors filled the room of the LA Biltmore.

As the final wave of fashion progressed, the room was alive with excitement. Those in the back that had an obstructed view were undeterred. They stood on their chairs ingesting the spectrum of colors and culture that the night presented. A current of applause ran through the room, not just applauding the models or the designers, but the generations who have spanned the country's 5000-year history. The audience clapped for the Kings and Queens of Imperial Korea. They clapped for the generals and scholars, the servants and courtesans. They clapped for the common farmer and the merchant. They clapped for an entire culture and civilization that still thrives to this day. They clapped for the glory of a people that still have a lot to be glorious at. They clapped for Korea.

The Korean Traditional Costume Fashion Show is sponsored by the Korean Cultural Center of Los Angeles (www.kccla.org).