It’s been two decades since South Korean designer, Woo Young Mi, launched her eponymous label on the Parisian runway. And while tailoring and workwear have always been central to Wooyoungmi’s DNA, her SS23 assortment was retrospective, becoming invigorated by nostalgia and opting for the boxy silhouettes of days past – even reusing below-the-knee shorts ripped directly from the inaugural collection. Granted, the new edit was not so much an anniversary celebration, but a comprehensive fashion history contemporarily swayed.
Going through the archives, Madam Woo took boyish informalities and the genderless ease of skate style into her approach, instigating a dialogue that mimics the timeless language of teenage bricolage – looks built from hand-me-downs and charity shopping sprees.
Framed by the grand gallery backdrop of Les Arts Décoratifs, the showcase implied the frenzied bourgeois atmosphere one might expect from a live-action auction, rendering the process of renewal prodigious. However, linked to the likeness between those old enough to know The OC and the TikTok famous tots of today, it was also fuelled by the nostalgia of social media and the catharsis of Y2K. The resulting clothes, built from memories of early incarnations, boasted baggy hip hop-inspired cargos, double-breasted jackets with second skin tees underlaid, pleated trousers, cropped shirts or blazers paired with slouchy wide-leg trousers, and a full spectrum of washed denim.
What’s more, while Woo’s work is usually easily recognisable by its oversized appearance, this season it was sexier than ever with waist chains, exposed skin at the midriff, sheer underpinnings and mesh all over. Accessories were seemingly straight out of a millennial heyday Britpop music video; think stacks of crystal necklaces, hammer pendants, bracelets, chunky rings, ear cuffs and rigid metal neck rings. Crafted in leather or crystal, audacious belts with protruding buckles lent an edge, platform shoes drew on the grammar of teenage activities and 1990s skatepark culture, and a variety of alternatively sized handbags evoked an adolescent approach to repurposing the possessions of elders.
Photography by Luca Tombolini.