Korean label Beyond Closet confirms strong potential at Pitti Uomo
Korean label Beyond Closet, showing for the third time at Pitti Uomo for the ‘Concept Korea’ project, won over the audience on Wednesday with a stylish, highly colourful catwalk show. This season perhaps even more so than in the past, Beyond Closet’s self-taught designer Taeyong Ko proved he is truly well-versed in his craft. It is surely not by chance that his menswear label, whose style is defined as “classic, with a twist,” managed to double its multibrand clients from one season to the next, growing from 15 to 30, chiefly in South Korea.
Taeyong Ko, who in his younger years was a swimming enthusiast, and cut his fashion teeth working in a clothes shop, has managed to create a highly distinctive, recognisable style through a classic wardrobe with a preppy vibe, infused with a touch of slightly humorous extravagance that is never excessive.
Taeyong Ko’s main strength is his ability to subtly blend genres and to create looks that are as original as they are attractive. His style is all about the way he plays with the accessories and the details which spice up Beyond Closet’s looks, as well as how he mixes and matches materials and registers. As he quipped backstage: “I dress men whose uniqueness lies in their own style.”
The show’s setting was reminiscent of a military encampment, with tents erected in a desert-like environment, and you could hear a motorbike revving up as the first models strutted out on the catwalk to the notes of Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wild Side’. Trousers gathered at the ankles, woollen check shirts and oversize parkas alternated with Price of Wales suits and navy-style looks, a nod to the theme chosen by Taeyong Ko this season, translating into sailor-style pea-jackets with golden buttons worn over striped tops, small scarves knotted around the models’ necks.
The mood was both relaxed and elegant, as in the case of the dandy ambling around in tracksuit bottoms and furry mules, sporting a classic tweed jacket, or in tartan trousers and a navy-style cardigan.
There was an emphasis on snug, ultra-warm items for protection against the cold, like plush coats and boiled-wool tops, fleece sweaters worn under jackets, oversize turtlenecks and curly-wool tracksuit bottoms, not to mention sundry jackets with generous collars and lapels, all strictly fur-lined, and an assortment of quilted trousers and jackets, featuring colourful patchwork fabrics in menswear’s classic printed motifs, like checks and houndstooth patterns.
The whole collection is made even sharper by the great attention paid to details and colour combinations. For example, the back of a khaki jacket is embellished with a vertical string of golden buttons. Elsewhere, in the guise of knee or elbow pads, Taeyong Ko opted for a kind of rectangular fitted panel, while some of his grey felt shirts featured ample pockets in brightly coloured nylon fleece, gloves in bright yellow leather were matched with a Prince of Wales checks look, and royal blue or velvet flaps livened up a classic trench coat.
The designer also played with layering and trompe l'oeil effects, as with the Teddy-style sweater whose back morphs into a grey nylon jacket, or the pinstripe jacket which strays into baseball kit territory, sporting the number 27 on the reverse side. Other examples are the overcoat which unexpectedly turns into a wind-breaker or the jacket which becomes an orange waxed top.
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