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View of “Korea Now!,” 2015–16. Photo: Luc Boegly.

“Korea Now!”

Musée des Arts Décoratifs

View of “Korea Now!,” 2015–16. Photo: Luc Boegly.

“Those women in Seoul were like the girls I grew up with. They just wanted a lipstick that could make them feel they might belong in a bigger town,” writes Andrew O’Hagan, in a recent profile of Karl Lagerfeld for T: The New York Times Style Magazine. O’Hagan followed Lagerfeld to South Korea’s capital last spring, for the presentation of Chanel’s 2016 resort collection. The designer, in the writer’s eyes, figures as a sort of fashion messiah, descending upon a land of aesthetic poverty. The Han River “was blue in all the wrong ways,” the sky “unsmiling,” and then there were the fanatical apostles: “These people were logocentric, dressed top to toe in Chanel and nothing but Chanel.”

Like the girls I grew up with. But where did O’Hagan grow up? Google answers: Kilwinning, North Ayrshire, Scotland, population approximately sixteen thousand. Is Seoul now akin to Kilwinning then? I

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