K Pop star, Kwon Ji Yong, who is better known as G-Dragon, is not just one of the biggest names in Korea, thanks to his membership in boy band, Big Bang. The 28-year old, who has been described as embodying “Justin Timberlake's boy bander-turned-credible musician pedigree and Kanye West's genre-bending artistic daredevilry,” is something of a bona fide street style star; you’ll see him on websites like Vogue, Le-21eme, NY Magazine, and TFL. He’s a front row fixture at just about every Chanel show, and Saint Laurent, Lanvin, Rick Owens, and Hood by Air, too. And as you can likely discern from his music videos (think: head to toe Chanel, Thom Browne, etc.), he’s a major fashion fan. Not surprisingly, he has been gaining traction as a fashion industry insider for the past several years, with an increasing number of designers and publications taking notice.
G-Dragon began gracing the pages of Vogue Korea in 2013, appearing on a special three-cover issue alongside “it” models Soo Joo, Kim Sung Hee, and Ji Hye Park. A 2014 cover saw him posing with Belgian model Hanne Gaby Odiele. He has since covered various issues of W, Dazed & Confused, and Hypebeast, and landed editorials in Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Cosmo, Numero, Esquire, and a number of other Vogues.
His penchant for designer labels (he actually purchases a lot of garments – as opposed to relying on loans or gifts from brands) have found him friends in the industry’s most notable creative directors, ranging from Hedi Slimane to Karl Lagerfeld, the latter of whom he first met in early 2014. As for Slimane, when he took the helm at Saint Laurent in 2012, he reportedly gave G-Dragon first dibs on all of his debut menswear pieces. Turns out, G-Dragon has been closely following Slimane’s work since the designer was in his hey-day at Dior Homme in the mid-2000’s. G-Dragon told Complex in 2013: “I didn’t really like it when it was YSL, but I’ve been a fan since it became Saint Laurent because I’m a huge fan of Hedi Slimane. I’ve been a fan of all the brands Hedi Slimane was a part of—I really liked Dior Homme when he was there, and bought a lot of pieces.”
As for Chanel, you may recall that the pop star – who also produces and tours as a solo artist – has consistently been seated front row at the runway shows for the past several seasons – whether they be in Dallas, Texas, Korea or Paris – dressed in Chanel, of course. More recently, he appeared in the Paris-based house’s Fall/Winter 2015 couture show, which was staged at the “Chanel casino,” alongside other celebrity participants like Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore.
With such industry credibility, you may not otherwise guess that G-Dragon is a relatively new fixture on the fashion scene. Unlike his more seasoned bandmate, Taeyang, who GQ labeled the “unexpected star of the [June 2013] Paris fashion festivities,” G-Dragon is a bit newer of a fashion darling. As New York Magazine’s The Cut noted in connection with his attendance at the Paris Fashion Week shows in January 2014: “G-Dragon has not appeared at Fashion Week since a brief, pink-haired stint in 2012.”
That’s not to say he hasn’t been curating a well-received fashion persona all the while, with the help of early stylist Ji Eun noona. Recently titled “Fashion's New It Boy” by Yahoo style, he is consistently spotted – usually in the airport or in concert – in an array of the industry’s most coveted brands, and his garments of choice are not limited to menswear. You may recall the Spring/Summer 2014 Marc Jacobs tasseled jacket he wore; or the Chanel and Céline women’s jackets; or still, the multi-colored fur cape straight from the Saint Laurent womenwear runway. He says he has also taken a liking to Rick Owens, Hood by Air, Thom Browne, and Juun. J. However, his designers of choice tend to change as regularly as his hair color, which has been red, orange, pink, turquois, blue, black, blonde, bronze, and a number of other hues. He’s also a fan of Chrome Hearts, which lead him to collaborate with the brand (hence, the excess of Chrome Hearts gear – from garments and jewelry to skate decks – in his “One of a Kind” music video). The same goes for his involvement with popular Japanese brand, Ambush.
Still, cult status in Korea and recognition in the often-insulated fashion industry does not necessarily equate to celebrity status in the world at large. This, however, appears to be changing for G-Dragon. As BOF noted not too long ago: “When Karl Lagerfeld included G-Dragon in a group photo at the latest Chanel couture show alongside international A-listers like Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore, it helped elevate the Korean rapper’s status as an ‘it boy’ even higher. G-Dragon had already attained cult status in the West by infiltrating the pages of Dazed & Confused, which chronicles edgier stars from Hallyu cinema, K-pop and other Asian entertainment scenes.” Maybe an even better indication: the depiction of the star in the New York Times’s recent review of Big Bang’s recent concerts in Newark, New Jersey.
Describing the band as “an outlandishly popular K-pop boy band,” the New York Times’s Jon Caramanica, described the scene as “an extreme, intense, overwhelming Korean pop carnival.” The stand-out member of the group: “G-Dragon, G-Dragon, G-Dragon — so many of the screams here were for G-Dragon, fashion show front-row habitué and collaborator with Diplo and Skrillex.” Caramanica continues on, “G-Dragon is very much at the top [of the group’s hierarchy]. He gets the best clothes.” And considering that he’s been wearing a lot of archival Raf Simons pieces on the group’s recent tour, it’s hard to argue with that.
*This article was initially published on October 22, 2015.