Gyeongbok Palace gets its Gucci on for ‘Cosmogonie’ collection show in November
Italian luxury fashion house Gucci will showcase “Gucci Cosmogonie Collection Seoul” at Gyeongbok Palace on Nov. 1, according to the label on Thursday.
It had first unveiled the collection at Castel del Monte in Apulia, Italy, in May.
“Cosmogonie” is Gucci’s 2023 cruise collection, released in between the traditional design calendar of Spring/Summer (S/S) and Fall/Winter (F/W) seasons. It consists of light spring and summer clothing as well as resort wear.
It’s the first show in Korea directed by Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director. According to Gucci Korea, Michele plans to showcase additional pieces during the Seoul show that haven’t been revealed yet elsewhere.
Why Gyeongbok Palace?
Gucci’s Seoul fashion show has been the talk of the town since the fashion label announced plans to present its cruise collection at Gyeongbok Palace in August.
Gucci described Gyeongbok Palace as “one of the most iconic and historical places in Seoul” and explained in an August statement that holding a show at this venue indicates Gucci’s “respect for the beauty of Korea’s cultural heritage.”
But the palace appealed to Gucci for more than just its historic symbolism.
Locations at which fashion shows are held serve as an effective device for accentuating the main theme of the show. Especially for cruise collections, brands tend to open shows at locations other than at the four major fashion cities — Paris, Milan, London and New York City — where it usually holds its regular S/S and F/W shows.
Tying Gucci’s “Cosmogonie” collection and Gyeongbok Palace together is like seeing the stars align.
Cosmogonie, or cosmogony in English, is the study of the evolutionary behavior of the universe.
The collection’s first fashion show was held at Castel del Monte in southern Italy’s Apulia region, a Unesco World Heritage Site that is structured in the shape of a perfect octagon with a layout that was made with mathematical and astronomical precision, according to the Unesco website.
The collection’s May show had boasted a celestial scene as the models crisscrossed through the octagonal structure donning its glittering, cosmic outfits.
Astronomical significance of Gyeongbok Palace
Established in 1395, Gyeongbok Palace was the hotbed of astronomical research during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).
Equipped with a royal observatory and astronomical instruments, the royals and scholars of Joseon made headway in the field of astronomy at the palace from the late 14th century.
Cheonsang Yeolcha Bunyajido, a 14th-century Korean circular star chart discovered at Gyeongbok Palace, is a testament to ancient Korea’s dedication to astronomy. The stele chart was erected during the fourth year of King Taejo’s (1335-1408) rule, according to historians.
“Cheonsang Yeolcha Bunyajido is the second oldest constellation chart in the world that includes nearly all the stars visible from the Northern hemisphere,” said Won Seong-gyu, Gyeongbok Palace manager.
“The royal palace of Joseon Dynasty paid heed to the sky and carved Cheongsang Yeolcha Bunyajido onto a stone with the dream of successfully settling into the country’s new capital, Hanyang,” said Yang Hong-jin, director of the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute’s Center of Historical Astronomy. “Creating the Cheonsang Yeolcha Bunyajido at Gyeongbok Palace, which was located at the center of the country, was an incredibly important national project.”
Cheonsang Yeolcha Bunyajido is Korea’s National Treasure No. 228 and remains one of the representative Korean cultural heritages to this day.
During the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, the chart was projected on the night sky using AR (augmented reality) technologies.
Gucci is expected to incorporate Cheonsang Yeolcha Bunyajido into its Seoul fashion show as well.
“The fact that this precious national heritage will be shown to the world through a Gucci show is highly meaningful,” said Won.
An official from Gucci Korea said that the brand sought insight from local experts to accurately depict Korean culture and history during its Seoul fashion show.
“The collection contains celestial and cosmic elements, and by showcasing it at Gyeongbok Palace, we hope that the fashion show will shed light onto the palace’s astronomical significance,” said the official.
From London and Rome to Seoul
Gucci has a history of scrupulously selecting symbolic or historical venues at which to hold its fashion shows.
In 2016, it held a show at Westminster Abbey in London. In 2019, it was at Capitoline Museum in Rome. In 2021, it chose Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Its upcoming fashion show in Seoul is especially significant in that it is the first city in Asia to host a Gucci fashion show since Covid-19 hit.
Even during the pandemic, though, Gucci has been actively expanding its business in Seoul.
In May last year, the fashion label opened a flagship store called Gucci Gaok in Hannam-dong of Yongsan District, central Seoul. Gaok is the Korean word for a traditional home.
The store embraces various Korean traditions and culture, showcasing purses with designs inspired from rainbow-colored sleeves of hanbok (Korean traditional dress) and preparing a gosasang (a ceremonial table full of food to ensure the safety and goodwill of a new business) as part of a special digital event ahead of the inauguration of Gucci Gaok.
On the sixth and final floor of Gucci Gaok, the brand opened an Italian-Korean restaurant called Gucci Osteria in March. The restaurant brand opened its first branch in Florence, Italy, in 2018, its second in Beverly Hills in Los Angeles and its third in Tokyo. The Seoul branch is its fourth.
The eatery embodies the Gucci style with furniture and utensils from the brand. Items on the menu range from 28,000-won ($22) burgers to 170,000-won seven-course meals.
Korea is rising as an attractive center for luxury fashion labels looking to further expand globally.
The country currently has the seventh largest luxury fashion market in the world, rounding up to $141 million, according to market research company Euromonitor.
Jo Jeong-yun, professor of fashion design at Sejong University, interpreted Korea’s ballooning luxury fashion market as a result of the world’s heightened interest in contemporary Korean culture such as K-pop and Korean dramas.
“Seoul is currently Asia’s landmark that many global fashion brands are paying attention to,” said Jo. “It is a city that is very sensitive to trends, with consumers who are willing to spend. The rising influence of K-culture and K-pop is serving as a springboard for fashion and other local cultures.”
BY YOO JI-YOEN [firstname.lastname@example.org]