Thursday, 2 July 2009

Still June - Part 4 - Seoul . . . Prada-Transformer . . .

Well, forces beyond our control have a way of working themeselves upon us. . .through my second week of despair/procrastination whichever one you wanna call it of my indeterminate gardening leave (yes, the Bkk Interval) of which I am to write as well as commence projects . . . my mentor makes another appearance and this time, well, I did not ask for it but I suppose my head in the clouds let's go around in circles state of mind has people wondering and he said I need to make a choice . . . between 3 things. . . 

Well, it's always about choices isn't it? Before I recap what the choices are, I found myself with an invitation to Seoul for the Prada-Transformer phase 2 opening.

After watching Twilight on repeat on the redeye flight to Icheon,a rather long transfer to the Grand Hyatt, then being confronted with this view from my room . . .

View from my room 
The Transformer is a project in Seoul, a cultural one, on the grounds of  a palace, where Rem Koolhaus designed a structure that transforms into 4 shapes with 4 functions.  It is genius. Really. 


The Transformer

The Palace in the Background

The Transformer in the daytime upclose

This second phase is called Cinema, Alejandro Innaritu curated the movies, there will be 3 screenings a day of a movie for the public(for free!) every day for 100 days till it transforms again for Nathalie Djurburg (of the clay animated very funny and surreal video art fame).. .. In its second phase, it blew me away. My mentor lit the Transformer, it shines. . . . I saw the flutist rehearse to a black and white classic, the 5 minutes standing there, my hairs stood up and I got goosebumps, it moved me.  

But-for Seoul friday night traffic I would have seen the opening screening with flutist but of course that should not happen.  It was magical when we did arrive though.. . .with the lit palace in the background. 


The campaign animation film from AW '08 - remember this?

check out the reflection across the screen

Upclose on the interior

Back to the 3 choices, I explained to my mentor that I finally made a choice, of the three things which were 
1) to get married and build an empire with my husband - probably a design empire of sorts; 
2) fashion; 
3) art.  

I choose fashion (which still relates to my PhD!), see, what I witnessed in Seoul is how fashion can be used as a tool, a tool for expression.  It defeats itself when it becomes to serious and takes itself too seriously but there is skill, labour and love in the industry, not to mention talent and vision.  Prada is a rare example and Mrs. Prada is a visionary with integrity, style and grace - she shows someone like me that anything is possible - it is an industry by its very nature, that moves, that changes and MUST evolve, it can never stay still thus if one can grasp that, what it means that it has the power to change and innovate what is around it.  Of course it also employs a lot of people, 400 million or something . . .so it is not so trivial. 
As for me, well you gotta do what you love and who am I fooling, I was making fisherman trousers when I finished highschool and did support myself desiging uniforms, my own label and then nsha. . . so yes "She's in Fashion".

Oh, but do let me regress just a little, the husband and empire thing, before that can happen it is important to figure out somethings for myself first.  I know my Howard Roark (I am adding Edward Cullen the vampire in Twilight to this idea of the ideal man too) is out there, just hope the road to him is not as difficult as Dominique Francon's was.
As for third choice art, I love art, it moves me, it inspires me, Art makes things make sense for me.  So I want art to look forward to, to keep learning and keep seeing and finally one day to collect and patron. Hey, a girl can DREAM!

Meeting the Grande Dame of the Korean Contemporay art scene and spending time with her made me realise that you can really do something you love as a career and be happy.  I know she has been through a lot and had her share of difficulties . . .Imagine the response of  a relatively conservative society to Judd, Giacometti and Twombly 20+ years ago.  They were finding the likes of Judd and Flavin difficult in NY in the early 80's, she was showing this stuff at the same time in Seoul.  Brave and inspiring woman.  Her fine art gallery Seomi and Tuus is a testament to great taste, a curious eye which appreciates beauty in its purest sense, movement and also humour.  Upon enterring, you are greeted by an Anish Kapoor.

Seomi and Tuus Gallery

Arnold and I had dinner with her and her son PJ and his lovely wife Carolyn at a great restaurant . . .had no idea Korean food was so pure and varied! Yummy.  Tried summer kimchi for the first time.

Korea is different, neither a Tokyo nor a Hong Kong, a unique entity in itself . . . It became very clear very quickly as well how the country is ruled by oligarchs, 3 families in particular that own Samsung, LG and Hyundai.  Pretty crazy.

Wanderings around town with Giorgio (Saloni's hubby). . .


Ho Lee Chow  - Chinatown diner . . . kinda funny Holy Food - hehe

pink paint job

I avoided the shopping area as my priority was to see the Leeum Museum (or the Samsung Museum)which was amazing - Botta, Koolhaus and Nouvel all in one place holding a spectacular collection of Korean historical The collection in there also makes sense, but reminded me very much of the lady I had dinner with the night before, it was her speaking to me, the combination of Judd, Bourgeoise, Twombly, Eliasson and an amazing early Stella - defined HER!  Also greeted by an Anish Kapoor upon enterring Contemporary section.

Botta Dome from inside

Bambook stair rails leading to Judd

Koolhaus' education centre - part of Leeum Museum

Me with Bourgeoise's baby to Maman spider

Back to Prada . . .
Of course there could be no fashion event without a party, Jan Kennedy, producer and event organiser extraordinaire and Prada's go-to man scoped out a nice location with a rooftop with a view and ready for midnight burgers, it was called Space. 

Getting ready for the party . . . .


While Mrs. Prada and movie people dined, I was with Mimi Xu, amazing hot quirky chick and DJ for the night . . .thank goodness it was Mimi! Prada flew her out from Paris, whilst having a drink with Jan earlier, who I met in Venice 2 years ago with Matteo and I had bumped into on the lift, she popped in to say hi. . . Hurrayy - I was not alone (Arnold left earlier)! Olivier (Alex de Betak's friend) from Paris was around too. 

Mimi and I

Olivier and Mimi

All in all, Prada people rock and the party was fab . . . would have loved to keep going but at a certain point the champagne will  knock you out. . . 

as it did to this poor girl - "Is this real life?"

I rode back with Sebastian Suhl of Prada - super nice and funny guy . . . next day he helped me find my phone that I temporarily lost . .. told me what I had missed Seoul nightlife at its most debauch and hilarious :( and also invited me to watch a screening on Sunday - so so so bummed I could not stay.

So all in all, Seoul was wonderful, to spend time with my mentor, with old friends and make new ones . . .  I even managed to get my friend Yeop's number on my last day, he came over to the hotel to have lunch with me - he is another very creative kid, galleries, design projects and property development. 

So yes, totally got Prada'd in Korea and Seoul's got soul!!!!

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