Editor’s note: Featuring the good, the bad and the ugly, “Look of the week” is a regular series dedicated to unboxing the most talked about outfits of the last seven days.
Capping off day two of this year’s Coachella, K-Pop girl group Blackpink made history on Saturday night by becoming the first Asian group to headline the festival. In front of a crowd of over 125,000, Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rosé used this inaugural moment to pay homage to Korean heritage by arriving on stage in hanboks: a type of traditional attire.
As the clothes were stripped seconds after the start of their opener, “Pink Venom,” revealing each member’s personalized black and pink Dolce & Gabbana outfit, fans everywhere had already gotten the message. Screenshot of the moment quickly spread among Blackpink superfans, otherwise known as Blinks. “The way they took to the biggest western stage in hanboks…literally proved their place at the top of the industry,” a certain Blink tweeted. “Blackpink is truly in a league of its own.”
Another called the group a “Korean cultural delegation” on Instagram, referring not only to the hanboks but also to other visual elements incorporated into their show, such as one of the stage sets featuring an angular tiled roof reminiscent of the Korean traditional architecture.
In recent years, Blackpink has enjoyed a meteoric rise to global fame. According to Guinness World Records, they are currently the most streamed girl group on Spotify and have the most viewed music YouTube channel. Last year, they were the first K-Pop girl group to reach No. 1 on the UK and US charts, and in 2020 their track “How You Like That” became the most viewed video on YouTube in 24 hours. (The group also wore modernized hanboks, designed by Kim Danha, in one of the scenes in the clip.) Their landmark set over the weekend actually followed another milestone: In 2019, they became the first female K -Pop. band to play at Coachella or any other American festival.
From Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic conical bra worn by Madonna for her Blond Ambition Tour in 1990 to Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell’s Union Jack mini dress, the right stage costume can forever be remembered by the public. Especially when worn at a defining moment for a career. In another Coachella breakthrough performance — Beyoncé’s 2018 headline — the singer’s custom Balmain college-style yellow hoodie was a cheery nod to black culture, especially her historically co-workers and universities. black.
The group’s four black hanboks were custom-made by South Korean pattern-making brand OUWR and Korean traditional dressmakers Kumdanje. Inspired by the Cheol-lik silhouette, each garment has been hand-embroidered with traditional Korean metallic patterns, including dan-cheong patterns and peonies (a symbol of royalty in Korea). “It was our pleasure and such an honor to be able to show the beautiful values of Korea and Hanbok together,” the creators said. wrote in a combined Instagram post. “Blackpink showed the beauty of Korea and dazzled the world.”
In Korea, hanboks are still worn for special occasions and are often seen TV shows. Many designers in the country have also created contemporary versions that are incorporated into everyday clothing. During Seoul Fashion Week, JULYCOLUMN’s Fall-Winter 2023 collection took inspiration from the voluminous silhouette of the hanbok to create structured shirts and jackets. Last September, Korean brand BlueTamburin introduced the garment to Western audiences using exclusively traditional hanbok fabric to create its Spring-Summer 2023 collection at Milan Fashion Week.
Whether you’re an avid Blink follower or not, these looks marked a moment of Asian visibility, recognition of traditional craftsmanship and a powerful example of sentiment seen through fashion – representing Korean culture and symbolically embracing its past and his future.
At the end of their performance, and after speaking to the audience between numbers in English throughout their two-hour performance, Blackpink finished their set in Korean: “So far it’s been Jennie, Jisoo , Lisa and Rosé Blackpink. THANKS.”
Top Image: Blackpink performing on the first weekend of Coachella 2023, shortly after removing his hanboks.