At the end of the second day of this year’s Coachella, K-Pop girl group Blackpink made history on Saturday night when they became the first Asian act to headline the festival. In a crowd of, reportedly, more than 125,000 people, Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rosé used the ground-breaking opportunity to pay tribute to Korean heritage by arriving on stage wearing hanboks: a a traditional type of dress.
Designed by OUWR and Kumdanje, the hanboks are inspired by the Cheol-lik silhouette. Credit: Dance/OUW
Another called the group “Korea’s cultural delegation” on Instagram, in reference to not only the hanboks but other visual cues included in their performance, such as one of the stage backdrops with an angular with a tiled roof reminiscent of traditional Korean architecture.
From the iconic Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra worn by Madonna for her 1990 Blond Ambition tour to Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell’s Union Jack mini dress, the perfect stage costume lives forever in the public memory. Especially when worn in a career-defining moment. During another watershed performance at Coachella – Beyonce’s 2018 headline set – the custom Balmain collegiate-style yellow hoodie was a happy nod to Black culture, especially historically Black colleagues and universities.
The stage design is another recognition of Korean heritage. Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
In Korea, hanboks are still worn for special occasions and are often seen TV dramas. Many designers in the country are also creating contemporary takes that are incorporated into everyday wear. At Seoul Fashion Week, JULYCOLUMN’s Fall-Winter 2023 collection drew on the hanbok’s voluminous silhouette to create shirts and structured jackets. Last September, Korean label BlueTamburin brought the garment to a Western audience by exclusively using traditional hanbok fabric to create its Spring-Summer 2023 collection at Milan Fashion Week.
Whether you’re a Blink devotee or not, the look marks a moment to look to Asia, acknowledge traditional craftsmanship and is a powerful example of feeling seen through fashion — representing culture. in Korea and symbolically embraced the past and future.
At the end of their performance, and after addressing the audience between numbers in English throughout their two-hour performance, Blackpink ended their set in Korean: “So far, Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa, and Rosé Blackpink. Thank you.”
Top image: Blackpink performs during the first week of Coachella 2023, shortly after removing their hanboks.