The House of K-Pop; are Jimin, BLACKPINK and EXO reinvigorating Dior, Louis Vuitton and other fashion houses?
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It would seem that European fashion houses are currently undergoing a bit of a crisis, if Deutsche Bank analysts are correct - and to be fair, they’ve a lot more knowledge about the financial markets than Marina and myself. Their latest analysis of the luxury sector shows that there is still a large amount of growth compared to the technology sector, but concerns have been raised that the growth is slowing down, or in some cases, dropped off completely.
LVMH has been cited as one of those within the luxury industry to have been hit hard with the slowing down; despite having a strong year so far, their overall valuation this year has dropped by 5% in terms of stock market pricing, with Hermès International, Moncler, Christian Dior also seeing drops
Could it be then that the apparent “reinvigoration” of brands such as Dior and especially Tiffany & Co under the dutiful eye of Alexandre Arnault, is a call-and-response to this economic slow down? We have already seen on-trend names in the entertainment industry become ambassadors for fashion houses or be as closely adjacent as possible such as Zendaya or Dua Lipa - who only overnight debuted her collection with Donetella Versace at Cannes.
But it would seem like fashion houses are casting their eyes to South-East Asia, and the ever growing Western pop culture takeover from K-Pop artists, from Jimin and BTS to Jennie K and BLACKPINK. There is a symbiotic relationship also involved in the use of K-Pop artists as ambassadors for these fashion houses; the houses get the credibility of popular, hot, new and ultimately good looking artists representing their brand while the houses themselves increase their reach and appeal in South Korea, Japan and China.
Between the ever knowledgeable Marina Licht and myself, we take a look at the history of famous faces and names involved with some of the world’s most lucrative fashion houses, and the K-Pop artists who could, and in many cases are, reinvigorating their brand for a newer generation and more importantly, an even wider global audience.
Before and after - the famous faces then and the K-Pop artists carrying the torch now
Then: In the 1950s, Dior was dressing the likes of royalty, and Hollywood stars Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner and Marlene Dietrich. According to Women’s Wear Daily “in the Nineties it was beloved by Princess Diana, Nicole Kidman and of course Celine Dion, who famously wore a backward white silk suit by John Galliano to the Oscars in 1999.
In more recent years, the likes of Natalie Portman, Jennifer Lawrence and Charlize Theron have all starred in Dior campaigns. In 2023, the global ambassadors include actors Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and Anya Taylor-Joy.
Now: I start with Dior because one of K-Pop’s biggest superstars has been ever-present at fashion events and marketing for the fashion house; BTS member Jimin. Jimin became a global ambassador for Dior in 2023, however has frequently been seen wearing Dior items before joining the fashion house.
Then: The words Louis Vuitton just exude luxury. Everyone from the likes of Sean Connery to Jennifer Lopez and Angelina Jolie have been ambassadors of the brand over the years. The luxury French house has always been forward thinking and in recent years, Bollywood actress Deepka Padukone has become a face of the brand.
In the 1990s, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss (friends of the then creative director Marc Jacobs), made the label ‘talked about’ everywhere.
Now: We return to BTS and J-Hope, who became an ambassador for Louis Vuitton along with the rest of the band in 2021. However it has been J-Hope’s appearances at the fashion house’s events that have put him front and centre for the brand. J-Hope has consistently showcased his affection for the brand through his distinctive street style and airport fashion. Notably, he was seen sitting front row at Louis Vuitton's men's fall/winter 2023 fashion show in January, further highlighting his connection and admiration for the brand.
Tiffany & Co.
Then:Tiffany has quite the history and of course who can forget Audrey Hepburn giving the brand an incredible platform in the iconic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s? According to Tiffany’s own website, the movie was “the first movie ever filmed at Tiffany’s flagship store, followed by Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and Sweet Home Alabama (2022).
Over the years, the likes of everyone from Beyonce to Anya Taylor Joy to more recently Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot have been associated with the brand.
Now: Serving as an official ambassador for Tiffany since April 2021, Blackpink's Rosé will be featured in visuals showcasing the brand's new Lock designs, which now include earrings, rings, and necklaces in addition to bracelets. This campaign reflects Tiffany's investment in expanding its Lock collection, which was introduced as the company's first truly gender-neutral offering in August of the previous year. The bangles, known for their swivel-open hinge, have gained significant popularity on social media, with celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Pharrell showcasing them, often stacked in multiples on their wrists.
Then: Throughout Chanel’s history, many high profile stars have been associated with the prestigious brand. It is interesting however that in the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe who was not paid to appear in adverts for Chanel, gave the fashion house the biggest boost when she revealed in an interview that she wore nothing else in bed but ‘five drops of Chanel No.5.’ It is therefore not surprising that 50 years after her death in 2013, Chanel unveiled a new ad campaign, featuring none other than Marilyn Monroe.
Over the years, the likes of French model Ines de la Fressange, French model and actress Carole Bouquet, Vanessa Paradis, Claudia Schiffer, Nicole Kidman Diane Kruger, Selma Blair, Keira Knightly, Audrey Tautou have all been associated with the brand.
More recently, Blake Lively the likes of Grace Kelly’s granddaughter Charlotte Casiraghi, Kristen Dtewart and Andie MacDowell’s actress Margaret Qualley have all been global ambassadors for the brand.
Now: Chanel continues to showcase the best of brand ambassadors, and the latest addition to the prestigious French fashion house is none other than BLACKPINK's Jennie. Jennie's involvement with Chanel aligns perfectly with the brand's evolution and enduring legacy. In the fashion house’s latest campaign imagery captured by Inez & Vinoodh, audiences are taken on a captivating journey through the streets of Seoul, South Korea, with Jennie as the focal point, effortlessly showcasing the iconic 22 Bag in both tote and backpack versions.
Then: From Jacqueline Kennedy to Grace Kelly, Gucci has always attracted huge stars. In the 1990s Tom Ford made it the ‘It’ brand for celebrities worldwide. Although I was very late to the game, House of Gucci, the 2021 drama starring Lady Gaga, brought the brand to the fore once again.
In more recent years, Harry Styles has become one of the stand out Gucci stars. Some of his best Gucci looks include th black see through pussy blow style shirt he wore to the Met Gala 2019, and the navy suit with pointed collar he wore to the Don’t Worry Darling premiere in 2022.
Now: Representing the renowned Italian fashion house Gucci is none other than EXO's Kai, renowned for his dynamic dance moves and impeccable fashion sense. In 2019, he was honoured as Gucci's first Korean Eyewear Men Global Ambassador, showcasing his unique style and charm. The following year, Kai's association with the brand grew as he became Gucci's Global Brand Ambassador, further solidifying his partnership.
Another K-pop idol who proudly endorses Gucci is IU. Initially appointed as the brand ambassador for South Korea in 2020, she elevated her role to become Gucci's Global Brand Ambassador in 2022. IU has gracefully adorned herself with Gucci products on various occasions, notably stunning the audience with a captivating dress at the 75th Annual Cannes Film Festival.
Then: Although we are obviously now in 2023, for me I will always associate Givenchy with Audrey Hepburn. The quintessentially chic Audrey Hepburn first met Hubert de Givenchy in 1953 and there began the couple’s friendship and professional relationship.
Hubert was responsible for creating Audrey’s exquisite black dress she wore as the character of Holly Golightly in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ in 1961. However, the first film he designed dresses for Audrey was my all-time favourite movie, Sabrina Fair.
Over the years, Givenchy has dressed many A-listers including Lady Gaga, Julia Roberts and Julianne Moore. In 2019, it was announced that the newest face of the brand was Ariana Grande.
Now: Givenchy announced Taeyang, a member of the K-Pop group BIGBANG and a solo artist, as its newest brand ambassador during their runway show at Paris Fashion Week in January. Taeyang's appointment marks the first time a South Korean artist has been named to this role. Creative director Matthew Williams expressed his admiration for Taeyang, praising him as an inspiring artist and a music pioneer who embodies the authentic and boundary-breaking style that aligns perfectly with Givenchy's aesthetic. Taeyang expressed his gratitude for the opportunity, emphasizing the special meaning Givenchy holds for him and his admiration for Matthew's leadership in both fashion and culture. He eagerly anticipates the exciting collaborations that will arise from this partnership.