EXCLUSIVE: ‘Squid Game’ Director Will Help Set Scene for Louis Vuitton’s Show in Seoul

by | Apr 19, 2023 | DESIGNER AND LUXURY, FASHION | 0 comments

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Nicolas Ghesquière’s first pre-fall runway show for Louis Vuitton will take place on a bridge over storied waters. The April 29 display in Seoul, South Korea, will unfurl after sunset on the Jamsugyo Bridge that spans the Hangang River — and with “Squid Game” director Hwang Dong-hyuk acting as a creative adviser on the show scenography. It marks the first time the double-decker bridge will host a fashion show and kicks off a series of initiatives between the luxury goods giant and local and national governments to promote Korea and exalt the waterway, one of the most beloved and scenic elements of Seoul and a lifeblood for millions of South Koreans.

It also represents one of the first splashy initiatives of new Louis Vuitton chairman and chief executive officer Pietro Beccari, who made spectacular fashion events in impressive locales a hallmark of his tenure at Christian Dior. He started at Vuitton on Feb. 1 and brought Ghesquière on board to add a new itinerant runway show to Vuitton’s playbook.

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Beccari called Seoul a “cultural hub that continues to draw global attention” and a cosmopolitan city that “shares a common spirit with Louis Vuitton for pioneering the future, reimagining creativity and nurturing savoir-faire.”

Disclosing details of the runway showcase exclusively with Ozi Fox, Louis Vuitton billed the event as global in reach, yet inclusive, engaging local talents and communities.

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The brand characterized Ghesquière’s collaboration with Hwang as being “in the spirit of creative collaboration” dear to the fashion designer, and reflecting “the will of Louis Vuitton to highlight and showcase local culture and artistic excellence on a global scale.”

Hwang’s “Squid Game” became one of Netflix’s most-watched shows in history when it came out in 2021.

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For his recent Paris shows, Ghesquière, Vuitton’s artistic director of women’s collections, has collaborated with French artist Philippe Parreno.

Vuitton’s pre-fall show will be live-streamed on its social channels and on outdoor screens across Seoul. In addition, the brand plans to invite 100 local fashion students to be among the 1,600 guests.

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The government in South Korea has declared 2023-24 the Visit Korea Year, with the Korea Tourism Organization orchestrating various events, travel packages, and promotional campaigns over the next two years.

For its part, Vuitton has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Seoul Metropolitan City and the Korea Tourism Organization. The French luxury goods house plans to work closely with the city government to promote the Hangang River.

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For example, it plans to add river attractions to the Seoul edition of its Louis Vuitton City Guide; install a book kiosk during the Jamsugyo Bridge Walking Festival, and participate in various short-term and long-term projects to preserve natural resources and improve biodiversity.

Once an important trade route to China, the Hangang River today provides water to millions of South Koreans and is an epicenter of leisure activities in Seoul, its banks lined with pedestrian walkways, bicycle paths, public parks, and restaurants. Locals call it the Han.

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In tandem with the Korea Tourism Organization, Vuitton plans to collaborate on a number of projects to promote Seoul and revitalize tourism, including a photo exhibition.

Kim Eui-sung, deputy mayor of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, said the city is gunning to attract as many as 30 million overseas tourists this year.

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“The partnership agreement is a great opportunity to share the beauty of the Han River, Seoul’s representative tourism resource with infinite potential, with the world,” he said.

Kim Jang-sil, president of the Korea Tourism Organization, noted that K-pop and other cultural exports are capturing fans all over the world.

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“The various cultural and artistic events held during the Visit Korea Year will showcase Korea’s cultural identity and sincerity,” he said. “The three-party partnership with Louis Vuitton and Seoul City is an excellent opportunity to promote Korea’s charm to the world, and we hope to garner meaningful results from this partnership.”

Louis Vuitton has a long history with South Korea.

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It opened its first boutique in Seoul’s Gangnam district in 1991 and constructed a bigger, full-fledged maison in the same location with an otherworldly facade by architect Frank Gehry in 2019. The unit showcases all of the brand’s categories and boasts an exhibition space and buzzy restaurant pop-ups from the likes of Pierre Sang and Alain Passard.

Vuitton’s roving “Volez, Voguez, Voyagez” exhibition landed in Seoul in 2017, the same year Ghesquière conscripted Ho Yeon Jung to model for Vuitton. Jung would go on to become a breakout star of “Squid Game” and become one of Vuitton’s global ambassadors. Korean actress Donna Bae has also appeared in Vuitton campaigns.

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The brand also recently published a book from its Fashion Eye series about Seoul, with Dutch photographer Sarah van Rij capturing fleeting moments of everyday life around the buzzing city.

Today, Vuitton operates 35 stores in South Korea, including 18 in Seoul.

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The brand has a long history of staging fashion shows at architecturally significant landmarks around the world. It staged a spin-off cruise 2020 fashion show in Seoul in a setting inspired by Gehry’s bold and experimental architecture.

The Jamsu bridge, completed in 1976 and only a few meters above the waterline, connects the districts of Yongsan-gu and Seocho-gu. A second and higher level, more secure during periods of high rainfall, was added in 1982, according to Wikipedia.

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