In their long history, Koreans have worn diverse and creative forms of clothing. Our ancestors were sensible enough to adopt different sewing methods appropriate to each season, turning a single type of fabric into the base of countless different styles. Koreans have always lived in harmony with the principles of nature. By using natural materials to make fabrics and by coloring them with natural dyes, our clothing has always had a direct bond to the natural world we live in.
Many have called Lee Young Hee a pioneering fashion designer, but she is not simply a person who makes clothes. To cite an old korean proverb that says ‘clothes are wings,’ Lee Young Hee gives us wings. She makes ‘costumes of the wind’ wrapping us in the ethereal beauty of the sky, and sometimes drapes us in earthy tones and textures keeping our feet firmly on the ground. She dyes her fabrics with colors drawn from nature’s pure palette, according to the same methods korean women have used for thousands of years. She gathers her materials from the entire continent of Asia, such as indigo blue from the indian plant. Lee Young Hee’s hanbok creates a cohesive dream of a unified asia by incorporating elements from India, China, and Japan to add a truly global flair to her designs.
Even if you do not wear her garments, your body will feel sensations of warmth or coolness just by gazing at them. You can perceive the skillful touch of the women who weaved the fabric in every seam. Hers is not a fashion ethos that changes according the whims of culture. as a flower is connected to its root, her costumes are deeply attuned to the undercurrent of a Korean aesthetic that flows from the past to the future.
The five adorning items classify this as an ojak norigae: a silver dagger, tiger’s claw, needle’s case, incense case, and bang-ah-dari. A tiger’s claw was thought to impart tiger’s strength to its wearer and the courage to dispel evil forces. The Bang-ah-dari comprises an ear swab and a toothpick, utilitarian objects grouped together. Since its shape resembles the leg of a grasshopper, bang-ah-gae-bee, it was named bang-ah-dari.
The word “jeogori” first appears in the annals of the Joseon dynasty (Joseon Wangjo Sillok) around 1420, the second year of King Sejong’s reign during the Joseon dynasty. Prior to this, the words “Yu (襦),” “Sam (衫),” and “Ui (衣)” were used. From antiquity to the present day, the jeogori is considered unisex attire. During the Three Kingdoms period, men and women’s jeogori came down to the hip without much difference between genders; however, during the Unified Silla dynasty, women’s jeogori were shortened and the resulting dan-ui (短衣) were worn. Subsequently, following this new trend, new differences in length appeared. Although the Joseon dynasty’s men’s jeogori did not change much below the waistline, from the mid-Joseon dynasty to approximately 1900, the women’s jeogori was shortened to reveal women’s bust lines.
The raw material is leather which is covered with a silk fabric and decorated with embroidery. The inner bottom of the footwear is made of padded cotton and quilted cotton fabric. They were generally worn by young women.
Garakji with engraved or cloisonné silver and with bat and flower motifs.
Tuho Samjak Norigae
Tuho Norigae originated from the Tuho game of throwing a bow into a jar. The jar shut with a lid to keep a year’s worth of misfortunes at bay.
The hwarot derives from the hongjangsan used in court wedding ceremonies. Common people were allowed to wear it on their wedding day, but the hwarot was so expensive that many couples could only afford to borrow the garment. Typically, the hwarot has embroidery over all of its surfaces. It is similar to wonsam but it is different if git (collar) and sleeve stitching. Embroidered patterns such as waves, rocks, phenixes, lotuses, peony blossoms, pomegranates, peaches, among others adorn the garment.
Jukjam is similar in part to maejukjam, but unlike the plum blossoms which decorate the end of maejukham, jukjam has numerous motifs filling the space between the two bamboo leaves at the top of its decorative end.
Seven pieces are pieced together. It is first stuffed and shaped with cotton and then decorated with jade, amber, coral, pearl, and cloisonné.
Curator — Sung Ho Hong
Organizaiton — Next Culture Management Group
Editor&Translator — Won Young Cho