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Korean Couture: Generations of Revolution
Cleveland Museum of Art
April 26, 2024 Preview

Korean Couture: Generations of Revolution tells a compelling story about the history of Korean couture fashion and its transformative legacy.

Korean Couture: Generations of Revolution banner at Cleveland Museum of Art


Ranging from 17th-century excavated aristocratic garments to contemporary Korean couture from leading and emerging Korean fashion designers, the exhibition allows visitors to explore the rich tradition of Korean dress. Featuring more than two dozen works and accompanying ephemera, it highlights the ways Korean artists and designers use fashion to elevate and challenge aspects of traditional Korean culture, while empowering contemporary designers to invent a new artistic language. Unique in its presentation, this international loan exhibition serves as a model for future shows celebrating global fashion at the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA).

Korean Couture: Generations of Revolution banner at Cleveland Museum of Art


Korean Couture: Generations of Revolution, the first Korean fashion exhibition at the CMA and the first exhibition to focus on Korean fashion at a leading comprehensive US art museum, is free and open to the public from April 28 through October 13, 2024, in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Gallery.

"This exhibition centers around the Korean design perspective, delineating how the contributions of Korean designers are reshaping fashion," said Darnell-Jamal Lisby, assistant curator of fashion. "An international and universal medium of artistic expression, fashion plays an enormous role in art, culture, and politics."

Exhibit Curators Darnell-Jamal Lisby and Sooa Im McCormick

Exhibit Curators Darnell-Jamal Lisby and Sooa Im McCormick


Notable contemporary works in the exhibition include dresses from André Kim; Lie Sang Bong; Lee Chung Chung, for LIE; Lee Jean Youn; and Shin Kyu Yong and Park Ji Sun, for Blindness. Historic works from the 1500s and 1600s include everyday clothing items made from silk, cotton, and paper; men's and women's ceremonial silk robes; jackets; and more.

Korean Couture: Generations of Revolution designers at Cleveland Museum of Art

"By tracing Korean fashion from the 17th century forward, we discover the ways that Korean fashion designers creatively subvert tradition and cultural norms through their artistic processes and designs to develop a path forward for the Korean fashion industry," said Sooa Im McCormick, Korea Foundation Curator of Korean Art. "We are so grateful to our donors, partnering foundations, and leadership for their continued support of our work to share Korean art, its influences, and its culture with our visitors."

Complementing Korean Couture: Generations of Revolution is Into the Seven Jeweled Mountain: An Immersive Experience, a free immersive digital exhibition that takes visitors on a journey through a beloved natural wonder that is now part of North Korea and isolated from most of the world.

Through juxtaposing historical and contemporary ensembles, Korean Couture: Generations of Revolution recounts the definition of "couture" from an inclusive perspective, amplifying how tradition has empowered contemporary Korean fashion designers to invent a new artistic language.

We were able to speak with Darnell-Jamal Lisby who joined the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2021. A fashion historian, his charge is to develop projects rooted in fashion studies that range across the museum's various curatorial departments. I apologize for the poor lighting for the video - flash is not allowed around the art so it is dark but you can hear what Darnell has to say.

In this video he tells of his impressive background (three degrees from the Fashion Institute of Technology: an MA in fashion and textiles studies: history, theory, museum practice; a BS in art history and museum professions; and an AAS in fashion merchandising) even though his interest in fashion didn't begin till high school. Darnell told us how you can learn about a culture through fashion and see the identity of an entire heritage. As Assistant Curator of Fashion at the Cleveland Museum of Art his work demonstrates how "fashion is a doorway to understanding people."



The Korean Couture: Generations of Revolution has some historic, traditonal items on display such as these:

Korean woman's wedding gown

Korean woman's wedding gown

Korean Paper Lace gown

Korean Paper Lace gown


There are also more modern creations such as this black and white Evening Dress, Spring/Summer Couture 2012.

Evening Dress, Spring/Summer Couture 2012

Evening Dress, Spring/Summer Couture 2012


and this Lie Sang Bong dress from 2008

Lie Sang Bong dress from 2008

Lie Sang Bong dress from 2008


There are also some wild creations. These two really jumped out at me.

Teddy Bear Coat from 2023

Teddy Bear Coat from 2023


and this Hat, yes, hat.

Korean fashion hat


While browsing the exhibit there is a large screen showing Korean Fashion Shows where you can see models wearing many of the items including the Hat and the Teddy Bear Coat.

Once again, Korean Couture: Generations of Revolution is on display at the Cleveland Museum of Art from Sunday, April 28–Sunday, October 13, 2024. It's Free!

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