Postcards / Travel

48 hours in Seoul with Jess Purchase, exploring the new Charles & Keith flagship store

48 hours in Seoul with Jess Purchase, exploring the new Charles & Keith flagship store

In partnership with Charles & Keith


It was late at night when model Jess Purchase arrived in the lobby of the Josun Palace Hotel in Gangnam, Seoul. She had touched down on South Korean soil for the very first time, in town with Singaporean fashion label Charles & Keith for the opening of their newest flagship store in the heart of the city. Despite the 10 hour flight, Purchase felt energised by the spectre of the whirlwind 48 hours ahead.

"I’d known about Seoul being a progressive, up-and-coming city, and a place that a lot of people are just tapping into now," Purchase told RUSSH. "It’s become more known as a travel destination, and I’d heard amazing things. Obviously, South Korea is renowned for its skincare, for its fashion, and for just having a really cool culture."

After enjoying lunch with the Charles & Keith team at Eatanic Garden on her first day, Purchase was on her way to the opening of the brand's new two-storey boutique in the heart of Gangnam. In keeping with Charles & Keith's stripped-back, minimalist aesthetic, their latest retail space is characterised by striking sculptural artworks by South Korean artist Jeesun Park, and the addition of a personalised 'Made for Me' service that allows customers to embroider their names on purchased bags and shoes.

"I was expecting something more like an intimate store walk-through," said Purchase, "But as we got out of the cars, there were swarms of paparazzi and fans everywhere. A lot of Korean celebrities were there – including their Global Brand Ambassador, actress Han So Hee, musician Jeon So-yeon and model Irene Kim – so it was like walking into a big movie premiere or something. It was so surreal and crazy."

"I was just so blown away by the quality of everything. The designs are insane as well. Charles & Keith had put so much consideration into the concept of the store, and into all of the displays. In Australia, we do have beautiful concept stores, but I had never seen anything like that before! The fit outs and the furniture  – they put so much consideration into everything."

Inside, the brand's Fall 23 collection – inspired by the abstract artworks of Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuși – was on display, alongside their newly minted monochromatic capsule collection created in collaboration with South Korean illustrative artist Henn Kim.

"Henn Kim was the most gentle, sweet woman – so kind and considerate," Purchase said. "Her pieces were very distinct as well. It's a beautiful collaboration that they've done. It's a lot of heavier hardware, lots of black – the collection has a bit more of a grungier, grittier feel to it."

The rest of the trip, Purchase tells RUSSH, was equally as idyllic – exploring some of the city's best gastronomic and sartorial offerings. We quizzed her on some of her trip highlights...


On the new brands she discovered at Seoul Fashion Week ...

We began SWF by seeing HEEYONGHeE showcase their Spring Summer 24 line. The collection was a beautiful balance of feminine silhouettes paired with embellishment that was disrupted off the body through draped, gathered fabric, often cut on the bias, and with textural components. Mist and smoke covered the runway as the models walked, adding a hypnotic, almost elusive feeling to the viewer. Most of the palette was subdued, however, we saw moments of bold colour paired with shimmering embellishments through the haze.

Next up was SEOKWOON YOON, whose Spring Summer 24 collection drew heavily from structured tailoring – with a relaxed streetwear element that the South Koreans do best. Oversized silhouettes were a large feature, as well as moments of smocking and fabric manipulation that were finely balanced to compliment the other. Pops of warm colour tones and crochet elements were present, and Seokwoon Yoon managed to perfectly walk the line between formal and casual.

Both designers were partnering with Charles & Keith for their shows, so we got to see the brand's Fall 23 collection make its way down the runway too.


On an unexpected highlight of the trip...

We went to Art & Omakase dinner at Kanilab on the second night, and it was honestly one of the coolest spaces I'd ever been to in my life. The sittings were based around the Ocean Journey of 'Daybreak', 'Sunrise', 'Wave Storm', 'Wake Pp' and 'Milky Way'. The ethos behind the dinner was about how weather is a testimony of our episodes in life. The kindness of all the staff and the detail in everything presented was magic. I was completely blown away.


On her favourite thing about South Korean style...

Having never been to Seoul before, I was surprised, impressed and envious of how daring, yet relaxed the street style was. I was taking notes the entire trip to incorporate moments into my Sydney wardrobe; praying that I could pull it off with as much finesse.

South Koreans are just so stylish and cool. They automatically make you just feel a bit vanilla and basic. I feel like it was really amazing and freeing being in a place like Seoul because I feel like they push a lot of these boundaries and have an edge to the way that they dress.

I played it a little bit safe with the pieces I selected, but seeing some of the things that the girls were wearing in-store, I was like: If I lived here, I would rock SO many of these pieces!


On her favourite pieces from the C&K collection...

Definitely the Petra Curved Shoulder Bag. They were just the cutest little everyday bags, and they complimented every single outfit. They made everything look cool, and I think the colour ways that they chose – like the burgundy red and the blue – I felt like they were such statement pieces that really tied an outfit together.

I know that ballet flats are really on trend at the moment, and Charles & Keith also had the cutest Mary-Jane style shoes in store.



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