We admit it. We’ve been sippin’ on the kimchi brine pretty hard as of late, and I am quite possibly the worst offender. You can’t really blame us though. Sure, exciting things in fashion are not restricted to just this one tiny peninsula, but for the past few years my ladies from the Land of the Morning Calm have really emerged as a new and exciting influence on the global style scene, creating garments that appeal to young women who want to wear more than just another pretty dress. It also doesn’t hurt my obsession that, because I’ve lived there, I can’t help but feel a personal connection to the country’s growing pack of young designers.
While living in SoKo, I also became enamoured with a little thing called K-Pop. My fascination with it, though, took time to develop. Finding most of it too cutesy and derivative at first, I definitely thought I was too good for it. But this sense of Western self-importance was misguided—as much as K-Pop artists and producers were influenced by American pop music, they proved themselves to be exceptional at channelling their influences in a new way. And frequently, the results were a million times better than their Western counterpart.
CL, the leader of Korea’s most acclaimed girl group 2NE1 (they are on the same label as Big Bang), is what happens when you take the IDGAF badassness of Rihanna, the spitfire tomboyishness of TLC’s Left Eye (R.I.P.), and the outspoken I-know-what-I-want attitude of Nikki Minaj and combine it all in a giant gold-plated blender. She is what I aspire to be as a woman, as an artist, and as a style icon. What sets her apart from every other drop dead gorgeous female K-Pop star is that she’s not afraid to look different and fuck with gender norms in her style choices. When most of your peers are wearing lace dresses with Peter Pan collars, it takes a different kind of woman to wear masculine track suits and sports jerseys.
CL is a true lover of fashion, and you can see it in all the young designers she reps in her music videos, her shows, and on her Instagram. She wears Astrid Andersen in “The Baddest Female” music video, Andrea Crews on tour, Hyein Seo in 2NE1‘s album art, Sam MC on the street, and Nasir Mazhar in photoshoots, on tour, and at the airport. Girl really fucks with Nasir Mazhar. Her interest in new designers and fearlessness when it comes to wearing colours, baggy silhouettes, and clothing designed for dudes definitely made some pretty big names take notice. She is a muse to Jeremy Scott, and gets props on the regular from people like M.I.A., Venus X, Shayne Oliver, Sky Ferreira, A$AP Rocky, and Nicola Formichetti.
Back home though, conservative Koreans have a hard time coming around to her bold streetwear-inspired sartorial moves. But CL doesn’t seem to give a fuck. Haters gonn’ hate, and CL keeps on doing CL. If that means wearing a Nasir Mazhar tiger fur sweat suit at the airport, or a Hyein Seo abominable snowsuit live in concert, I hope she never stops doin’ her thang. ❤
Images via Instagram, Tumblr, W, Dazed Digital, Harpers Bazaar, & Terry Richardson.