Art – and reframing it to ask questions around clothes and identity – has always been at the heart of We11done.
Whether they’re interpreting Manet’s risqué picnic setting into futuristic glossiness or playing with postmodern art influences, creative directors Dami Kwon and Jessica Jung like to be at the intersection of art and fashion. Which is why it felt like a beautiful meeting of worlds that the brand’s first show on their home turf of Seoul Fashion Week took take place when Frieze Seoul now runs simultaneously. Kwon and Jung didn’t miss a beat with this constellation, delving into the haunting work of South Korean-born artist Do Ho Suh and his ghostlike structures to explore the concept of memories embedded in clothes.
Titled Remnants of Home, their SS24 offering borrowed memories from Kwon and Jung’s Korean childhoods and injected them into their architectural minimalism. The echo of a school uniform was felt in razor-sharp lampshade pleat skirts, while the printed linoleum flooring from a family home was reimagined as slick, oversize wetlook top. The collection crystallised elements that have long been part of We11done’s language, bringing a heightened sense of sleek, focused modernity to their sculptural garments and standaway, boxy silhouettes, something which was further underscored by their choice of a crisp, almost paper-like fabric.
We11done, which was born in 2015 as an organic extension of the duo’s much-admired concept store Rare Market – the first retailer to introduce brands such as Jacquemus and Marine Serre to the Korean audience – has always been Kwon and Jung’s laboratory. But what began as their own personal fashion experiment and creative outlet has grown much bigger than the shopping experience that launched it. Now worn by the likes of Billie Eilish, Yang Mi, Justin Bieber and Kylie Jenner, their SS24 show in Gangnam’s K-Pop Square was the perfect homecoming, with a subtle nod to their K-Pop ties: Kwon is G-Dragon’s older sister.
Traversing the unconventional tailoring territory Kwon and Jung like to navigate – and fluently blurring the lines between womenswear and menswear as they have since day one – the collection weaved together the material and the immaterial, the familiar and the home-like with the unfamiliar and strange. Like Suh’s weightless works in brightly coloured polyester that are at once tangible, recognisable structures and completely flimsy, almost eerie objects, the designers left trails of the familiar across the looks but viewed through a distorted lens – much like how memories work, as our brains rewrite them again and again.
A classic boardroom pinstripe suit, for example, had been recoded into a dress, embossed with a lapel and buttons almost trompe l’oeil style. Elsewhere, a sleeveless top had a faint tie outline. Blending nostalgia and future – as seen in the neat polish of shift dresses against the handcrafted feel of diaphanous, cobwebby knitwear – the collection played with contrasting surfaces and an air of ‘now you see it, now you don’t’. For the closing sequence, the comfort of a favourite childhood blanket was literally wrapped around the models in a series of folded, strapless evening gowns – tenderly held by the models, as if to emphasise the element of intimacy.
Words by Susanne Madsen