runway model


Korean Fashion: From Royal Court to Runway



August 19–December 22, 2022

Innovations in fashion, music, film, and other arts have propelled Korea to the forefront of the world’s creative stage. This major exhibition will explore the extraordinary transformation of Korean costume and fashion over the last 125 years, from the late Joseon dynasty to today’s couture and cutting-edge street fashion.



About the Exhibition

After centuries of relative isolation, Korea opened its borders to international trade and diplomacy in 1876, but for years the country remained little known outside of Asia. Korea’s participation in the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 changed that. Visitors to the Korean pavilion were dazzled by the colorful displays of traditional clothing (hanbok), such as embroidered silk jackets and robes made for the Joseon royal court.

In Korean Fashion: From Royal Court to Runway, you can see some of the same garments that were showcased in Chicago in 1893, as well as other rare examples of ceremonial and everyday clothing from Korea’s last royal dynasty. Continuing into the modern era, the exhibition showcases the fashions of pioneering Korean designers such as Nora Noh in 1950s and 60s, and Lee Young Hee and Icinoo in the 90s, the first Korean designers to present their collections on Paris runways.

In the 21st century, South Korea has emerged as a pop culture powerhouse and one of the most fashion-forward nations in the world. This exhibition presents fresh-off-the-runway ensembles that reveal how contemporary designers such as Lie Sang Bong are blending the historical and avant-garde, local and cosmopolitan, and high and popular culture to create a distinctive and compelling Korean voice.


Project Sponsors

Major support for this exhibition and related programming is provided by the Korea Foundation, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and Bea and Thomas Roberts. Additional support is provided by Norma and Ted Lonoff, Roger and Claire Pratt, and Barbara Tober in honor of Dr. Young Yang Chung.