Goom Heo's horror-inspired AW21 collection guides us through the darkness
The Korean Fashion East designer captures the ominous mood of our times.
Photography Trinity Ellis. Images courtesy of Goom Heo
Goom Heo has been honing her futuristic vision of menswear for a couple of seasons now, since joining the Fashion East line-up fresh out of Central Saint Martins, right before lockdown. Having won the top-of-the-crop L’Oréal Professionnel Creative Awards with both her BA and MA, it’s fair to say that she’s one of fashion’s brightest young stars.
Goom grew up in Jinju, South Korea, before moving to Springfield, Illinois and later coming to London to kickstart her design career at the prestigious art college. It’s there that she began to toy with graphic designs that play with ideas of shape and contrast; like digital images brought to life with intricate constructions and techniques. This season marks her first foray into womenswear, and for AW21, she took her cue from the horror genre — we’re living in scary times, after all — and more specifically, Robert Wiene’s 1920 silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and the angular bronze sculptures of Philip Jackson.
“For me it’s not about a specific horror or ghost story, but rather the experience of building anticipation that horror genres create and the fear of not knowing what’s going to happen next,” explains the Korean designer. “It’s the not knowing and how our imaginations can amplify the uncertainty of the current situation.” And so, Goom’s collection is full of moody plays on shadows — quite literally in the case of reflective silky wool fabrics — as well as stark hooded silhouettes with origami folds, sheeny tailoring with razor-sharp edges, carefully-constructed pleats, and the occasional swathe of drapery, inspired by the work of mid-century couturier Madame Grès.
The dark, saturated tones heighten the mood, turning Goom’s usually bright, high-res characters into more sombre figures, almost like video game characters or distant monastic figures at nightfall. “In the beginning, the inspiration was mostly visual but while we were developing the collection in lockdown, I can say the current situation reflected how I felt towards it. I wasn’t sure about what to expect in the future or what will happen,” she says.
Goom notes that she wanted to capture the “cold and sharp” mood of Jackson’s sculptures and the “graphic and daring” scenes of the movie. “I find it quite interesting how the shades play around in the background,” she says. “I also tried to fluidly marry elements of draping with tailoring into single garments.” As a result, many of her designs have a hybridised quality, singular garments designed to embody opposing moods: hard and soft, light and dark, starkly plain and ornately embroidered. It is, by no means, fashion for the faint-hearted. These are strong, horror-inspired clothes for the sartorially unafraid. “I wanted to show the idea that my collection is accessible to anybody who would like to be daring,” she concludes.