Seoul’s got style

… and I’m not talking about the Gangnam kind. Although I did visit Gangnam on my last evening in Seoul, this post is about stylish stuff I found in museums and galleries around the city.

Exhibit A: the World Jewellery Museum, which I stumbled on completely by accident when I was trying to find my way to one of the palaces. There are a lot of brown signs on posts all around Seoul, kindly pointing out places of interest to tourists, and in the palace precinct there are all kinds of galleries and museums that I had no idea existed (basically because I didn’t have a guide book and was relying on a map I found in my guesthouse which focused on where to see stuff from Hallyu ie Korean TV dramas!). When I saw the sign for this museum I decided a detour before the palace wouldn’t hurt.


Although the museum is fairly small it still has a swoon-worthy collection, much of which I’d seen similar examples of in books. There was a particular emphasis on tribal jewellery at the museum, so of course I was not complaining, although Tiffany-types and fans of subtlety might not enjoy it so much.
stylishseouljewellery2This matchmaker’s ring would have covered just about my whole hand, it was that big. Having set up two of my friends years ago (who are now happily married with two kids) I have a feeling I’m owed one of these… stylishseouljewellery5

A mask isn’t exactly jewellery but these fit in with the rest of the displays. Plus, the museum is private so the owner can basically do what she wants. If she wants a wall of tribal masks, she gets a wall of tribal masks! We got chatting when she admired my earrings – don’t you love bonding over accessories?stylishseouljewellery6If Seoul has an ethnic costume museum, I unfortunately didn’t find it. I did visit the National Folk Museum and one or two other museums where there were a few costumes and some jewellery on display but no cohesive collection. And now I don’t remember which museum I took these photos at. Doh!

This projection shows a lady in traditional dress with extremely impressive hair. And tassels. Mmm. Tassels.

While I don’t know much about it, some of the elements of Korean traditional costume seem similar to Japanese (hardly surprising really as they are neighbours). I found a vest at a Tokyo flea market that looks a lot like this white one for 100 yen – but more on that in a later post.

I have to admit that I didn’t really see much of the high fashion or check out any designer boutiques while I was in Seoul – I just seemed to run out of time. But I did make it to a free exhibition on high fashion at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, about Christian Dior to be exact. Entry was through his salon at 30 Avenue Montaigne – well, a projection of it, anyway.


As it was a free exhibition, I was expecting just a few mannequins and merchandise. To my (delighted) surprise, there was room after room of exquisitely dressed and displayed mannequins and artwork, divided into themes such as “black”, “flowers”, “gold (d’or)” and so on. I thought I’d be in there for 10 minutes… and emerged, somewhat overwhelmed, more than an hour later.


There was even a whole room full of doll-sized outfits, grouped in colours. I know at some stage designers did use dolls to show their collections but I don’t think these were made for that purpose. I couldn’t read the description (if there was one.. I’ve forgotten) so I’ll never know, but they were gorgeous anyway.stylishseouldior

In Melbourne, exhibitions of this calibre (such as the recent Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition) are few and far between AND would cost at least $20! I wasn’t sure why this one was free until I was telling my friend in Tokyo about it and she said it had already toured there and was sponsored by Dior. I’m not sure where it’s due to appear next but if it pops up near you, make it a high priority to go. And if you’re in Seoul, keep an eye out on what’s happening at DDP and other smaller museum and gallery spaces – even if you do nothing else there, the city has enough of them to keep art, culture and style fans happy for days.