Category Archives: Fashion

A complete and thorough guide to BTS’s ‘오,늘’ Exhibition

BTS’s 2018 exhibition, ’24/7 = Serendipity (오,늘)’ at Ara Art Center in Seoul. SCREAMfmLondon

Sunday was an emotional rollercoaster.

After getting my phone stolen on Saturday night, I spent the morning checking in at the police station (2 hours), trying to dance away my pain in the studio (2 hours), then navigating the task of buying and activating a new phone (1.5 hours).

Finally, it was time to see my spot of brightness in this dreary world: the seven boys of BTS. Using a map the police had graciously drawn for me on a Post-it, I found my way to the ’24/7 = Serendipity (오,늘)’ exhibition at Ara Art Center. But the adventure didn’t end there! Without a phone to show my booking confirmation, I had to beg and plead to be let into the exhibit.

When the staff eventually took pity on me and allowed me to enter, they told me not to worry about the phone and “just enjoy your BTS!”

Honestly, what would we do without them?

“Past the end of this cold winter / Until the spring comes again / Until the flowers bloom again / Stay there a little longer,” soothes BTS in 2017’s “Spring Day.” SCREAMfmLondon

Guides are available in multiple languages to help visitors work their way through the ambitious, four-floor exhibit. On the first page of the guide is a romantic inscription: “In the middle of this vast ocean / I sing for someone who will listen to my voice / In the middle of this vast ocean / I hear a song that comforts me / A story we build together, you and I.”

The first rooms, entitled “BTS BEGINS” and “DOPE,” feature golden discs engraved to depict each member’s unique personality and then some beautiful portraits of the beautiful boys themselves.

Jimin, Jin and J-Hope as seen in the “DOPE” room at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Next comes the “MIC Drop” room, which contains photos of BTS’s significant wins on award shows, from their first Korean music shows to recent achievements abroad like the Billboard Music Awards.

The “MIC Drop” room at BTS’s ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

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Then a mirrored hallway leads you to “Young Forever,” one of many rooms filled with never-before-seen photos of BTS throughout the years. You’re not supposed to take pictures in there, so I didn’t, but other people definitely did, so I’m sure they’re all online somewhere by now.

This is one of the most crowded rooms, and it’s hot in there, too. In here, I felt like the chaperone of a school field trip, peering over the shoulders of young fans all giggling over how cute Jimin is in the pictures (which he is, of course).

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Next up is the “BANGTAN ROOM,” partially made up to look like the boys’ old studio spaces with computer monitors, equipment, polaroid photos and other personal touches.

Computer monitors looping through old videos in the “BANGTAN ROOM” at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

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I tried so hard to take a picture of Namjoon’s cute little “Give Up” tomato sculpture lamps from behind the glass, but the glare was too real.

These little lamps were created by Case Studyo based on Dutch artist Parra’s original fiberglass sculpture “Give Up.” I love them, and I love Namjoon’s aesthetic, and I love Namjoon. SCREAMfmLondon

Lyrics from BTS’s “Whalien 52.” SCREAMfmLondon

This nearly wraps up the first floor of the exhibit. The next stop is “We On,” which is absolutely one of the coolest parts of the whole thing, bringing to life several of BTS’s most memorable music videos and allowing fans to step into the sets and be a part of their worlds.First comes the set from “I Need U,” featuring the bathtub scene where we see Jimin in the video, as well as some doodles added by the boys upon their visit to the exhibit.

Jimin in “I Need U.” Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

The “I Need U” set at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Namjoon drawing his BT21 character Koya on the bathroom walls at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

Then there’s me! SCREAMfmLondon

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Across from this are the blue train cars also featured in “I Need U.”

BTS in “I Need U.” Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

The “I Need U” set at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

The next set is from the “Spring Day” music video: the Omelas hotel, a reference to Ursula K. Le Guin’s science fiction story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” about a utopian city named Omelas that is in a perpetual state of happiness as long as one child is kept in constant misery.

Yoongi, Namjoon and J-Hope in the “Spring Day” music video. Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

The “Spring Day” set at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Should I stay or should I go? SCREAMfmLondon

Then comes the Magic Shop, a set from BTS’s “Fake Love” teaser. Here, you can exchange your fears for something positive.

Yoongi visits the Magic Shop in the “Fake Love” teaser. Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

The Magic Shop at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

I have an animated discussion with the keeper of the Magic Shop at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

The final music video set in this section of the exhibit is from “MIC Drop,” but this room has some cool video and audio elements, so you’re not allowed to take pictures.Across the hall, there is another room of unreleased pictures (this one called “Spring Day”), which leads into “Love Maze.” “Love Maze” is a literal maze of mirrors, some of which have been autographed by the members of BTS. I completely neglected this part, though, because the other rooms on this floor are so cool. Which brings me to…

The next room  — another amazing highlight of the exhibition: “Tear,” a room filled with flatscreen TVs showing never-before-seen dance practice videos! Again, no photos or videos were allowed, so I just took my time taking in the videos that spanned the years of BTS’s existence.

The second floor concludes with the “ARMY BOMB” room, which houses the fence as seen in BTS’s “FIRE” music video. On the wall, there is a video projection of the band from a concert on the 2017 Wings Tour, and fans feel as if they are standing inside in the official lightstick itself.

The first room on the third floor of the exhibition is “Whalien 52,” the blacklight paint-splattered set from J-Hope’s “MAMA” scene in the Wings short films.

J-Hope in BTS’s Wings short film “MAMA.” Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

J-Hope and Jungkook take photos inside the “Whalien 52” room at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. Photo courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment.

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Then there’s me! SCREAMfmLondon

Around the corner is the “House of MASKs,” showcasing the masks worn in the “Fake Love” music video and featured in Taehyung’s “Love Yourself: Tear” comeback trailer, “Singularity.”

The “House of MASKs” at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

The next room, “DNA,” presents several of BTS’s most popular song lyrics in artistic formats that cover all of the room’s white surfaces.

The lyrics to BTS’s “Magic Shop” at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

The lyrics to BTS’s “MIC Drop” at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Following this is another great highlight of the exhibition: “If I Ruled the World,” a room displaying costumes the BTS members have worn in different music videos as well as representative gas masks the boys designed to go along with the outfits.

The “If I Ruled the World” room at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Jin’s costume from the “Blood Sweat & Tears” music video at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

J-Hope’s costume from the “MIC Drop” music video at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Yoongi’s “Not Today” costume and Jungkook’s “DNA” costume at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

A closer look at Yoongi’s crushed velvet gas mask. SCREAMfmLondon

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Taehyung’s “Run” costume at the ‘오,늘’ exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

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A hallway full of videos entitled “Tomorrow” leads the way to the next and final floor of the exhibition.

First up: another room of unreleased photos (these ones from live performances) called “Wings.” In the center of this room sits the phone booth prop that Namjoon used in his Wings short film “Reflection,” as well as onstage during the tour. The booth is covered in quite a lot of cryptic writing and poetry, so it was thrilling to finally have the chance to inspect it up close.

The fourth floor also features some polaroid photos of the boys in a room called “RUN” and a room of kind of Harry Potter-style moving portraits called “Blood Sweat & Tears.” I wish they’d let us take pictures in this room because Namjoon’s portrait was peak cuteness, and I still dream of it at night.

Finally, fans are invited to write down their feelings on the exhibit in the ARMY capsule in a room called “IDOL.” Overwhelmed, I just wrote down my feelings honestly (they were: “Namjoon is cute!!”) and exited through the gift shop.

The layout of the BTS exhibition at the Ara Art Center. SCREAMfmLondon

And there you have it: a room-by-room, thorough and detailed account of BTS’s ’24/7 = Serendipity (오,늘)’ exhibition. ARMY af.

2018 BTS Exhibition ’24/7 = Serendipity (오,늘)’
Ara Art Center
26, Insandong 9-gil, Jongno-gu
Tickets are 18,000 KRW.
The exhibition runs through October 28.
For more information, visit www.ticket.interpark.com.

My k-beauty picks: More of the best cushion compacts

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Cushion compacts from Clio, Moonshot, The Face Shop and Tony Moly. SCREAMfmLondon

It’s time for a sequel to my first list of the best Korean cushion compacts! I’m simply enamored with this beauty innovation, and I can’t imagine ever returning to clunky traditional foundations. Korean beauty brands release new formulas and new collaborations regularly, so I’m always experimenting with the next great products.

Here are four more of my favorite cushion compacts:

Clio Kill Cover Liquid Foundation Cushion

This Clio cushion is absolutely amazing if you’re looking for a super full-coverage foundation. The Kill Cover cushion has an incredibly high-coverage formula for such a lightweight compact, and it’s great to work with if you want a really long-lasting, flawless makeup look. This is my go-to cushion for fancy nights on the town because it’s smoothing, moisturizing and brightening, and it really doesn’t require any touchups. Definitely recommended if you like full coverage foundations. You’ll be impressed with Clio’s Kill Cover compact.

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Tony Moly’s Pikachu Mini Cover Cushion. SCREAMfmLondon

Tony Moly Pikachu Mini Cover Cushion

Pikachu is having a big moment in Korea right now, so you’ll find various Pokémon in all the shops, on all the fashion and in all the beauty products. As I am very easily swayed by adorable packaging, I had to pick up the Pikachu Mini Cover Cushion from Tony Moly’s latest beauty collaboration with Pokémon. The line includes all kinds of Pokémon products, from face masks and cleansers to nail polishes and lip tints. This cushion is smaller than your average compact, so it’s great for on-the-go spot treatment. Although it’s cute, the formula is actually quite decent, and it provides good coverage. But I’m mostly in love with the detailed packaging, including the Poké Ball-shaped applicator sponge.

The Face Shop Oil Control Water Cushion

Speaking of adorable packaging, The Face Shop is also stocking some super cute character compacts at the moment. They have a Disney collaboration featuring a Monsters, Inc. cushion and a Mickey Mouse one, but I’m much more drawn to the darling Kakao Friends collaborations. The Kakao Friends are various characters used as emoticons on the Korean messaging app KakaoTalk. My favorites are Frodo, the dog, and Ryan, the bear. So, I had no choice but to buy this cushion compact featuring one of the best Ryan illustrations (he’s cheering for you amidst a backdrop of confetti!). It’s a light-coverage formula, so it’s best for daytime wear. This particular cushion is designed for oil control and boasts sebum-minimizing powers. But, let’s be real: I bought it for the packaging, and I’d do it again.

Moonshot's Microfit Cushion. SCREAMfmLondon

Moonshot’s Microfit Cushion. SCREAMfmLondon

Moonshot Microfit Cushion

I briefly touched on this cushion in my review of the moonshot x BIGBANG10 LUCKYBOX. Moonshot is the beauty brand owned by YG Entertainment, Big Bang’s record label, so all of the products are endorsed and modeled by YG artists like G-Dragon and Blackpink. I just dream of having skin as luminous as GD’s, so I am very drawn to this product. I really love the formula, the semi-matte finish and brightness of the Microfit Cushion. My only complaints are with the design: the applicator sponge broke really quickly, and the sponge inside that holds the product has gotten weirdly off-centered. While I’m disappointed with the durability of the compact, I’m still really into the product and will continue to use it.

K-beauty review: moonshot x BIGBANG10 LUCKYBOX

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YG Entertainment’s cosmetics brand Moonshot presents its special Lucky Box event for Big Bang’s 10th anniversary. SCREAMfmLondon

As K-pop’s greatest boyband, Big Bang, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, its label, YG Entertainment, has pulled out all the stops so fans can make the most of the occasion. From concerts and an art exhibition to an in-theater movie and a line of makeup and skincare products, there is no end to the festivities.

I picked up the moonshot x BIGBANG10 LUCKYBOX for 70,000 KRW (about $62.70) at the BIGBANG10 concert in Seoul. The box features about six products from the cosmetics brand Moonshot (also owned by YG Entertainment) that are advertised by Big Bang’s G-Dragon and 2NE2’s Dara. Here is my rundown of the box’s contents:

All in One Moisturizer ($21.40)

First of all, this is a men’s product intended to keep your face soothed and moisturized after shaving your beard. Although this is not a problem I really have, I’m sure I’ll get some use out of this product anyway. It’s supposed to contain the qualities of a toner, lotion and an essence combined, and it’s said to even out the skin tone. If I never use it, at least I’ll have it on hand in case GD wants to spend the night.

Moonshot's Microfit Cushion. SCREAMfmLondon

Moonshot’s Microfit Cushion. SCREAMfmLondon

Microfit Cushion SPF 50+ PA+++ ($23.05)

This product is one I really love! It’s a layerable foundation with a light formula, and it really creates a smooth, poreless look. The Microfit cushion has become my go-to cushion compact for traveling and for going out. It makes the skin look flawless, and I really highly recommend it.

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Moonshot Cream Paint in 104 Pink Punch. SCREAMfmLondon

Cream Paint ($20.58)

This cream paint is a multipurpose lip and cheek tint with a creamy texture and a powdery finish. I received the cream paint in color no. 104, pink punch, which is a bright magenta color that I quite like. I don’t normally wear lip or cheek products, so I’m glad to have the opportunity to experiment with this one and see how it turns out for me.

Line Performer Pencil ($14.82)

This is a waterproof pencil eyeliner that I received in color no. 01, deep black. Most intriguing is the included blending applicator and sharpener. This pencil is supposed to be great for both smokey eyes and sharp cat eyes, but I’ve pretty much transitioned to exclusively using eyeliner pens, so I haven’t taken the time to try this out yet.

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G-Dragon’s signature scent by Moonshot: GD Eu De Toilette. SCREAMfmLondon

GD Eu De Toilette (65,000 // ~$58.22)

The Lucky Box came with a small sample of G-Dragon’s signature scent, but I actually purchased the full-size, 50 mL thing because I really dig the scent. It’s advertised as a unisex fragrance, so it’s a bit more subtle. A breakdown of the perfume shows three different groups of scent: the top layer being grapefruit, lemon, tangerine and cottonwood; the middle layer is sage, seaweed, jasmine and bamboo; and the base layer is ambrette, cedarwood, musk and patchouli. I really enjoy this fragrance, and I’m really happy with the purchase. It doesn’t even give me a headache after wearing it for a while — the true test of any perfume.

Multi Protection UV Bouncer ($28.81)

This is kind of a base product that moisturizes the skin while providing protection from UV rays. It can be used as a primer under foundation, and the gelly formula can be cooling, soothing and refreshing. I imagine this would be a nice product to use during the heat of the summer, but as it’s moving into fall now, maybe it’ll have to wait until next year.

Everything Else

The rest of the Lucky Box is filled with postcards and pictures of GD and Sandara Park, Moonshot’s two main YG models, as well as a commemorative BIGBANG10 sticker. Some Lucky Boxes allegedly contained signed Big Bang CDs or tickets to the art exhibit, but I had no such luck. All-in-all, I’m happy with my Lucky Box and I’m glad I had the opportunity to pick one up and participate in all the Big Bang 10th anniversary madness. Keep it coming, YG. I’ll probably buy anything G-Dragon is trying to sell me.

My k-beauty picks: Best cushion compacts

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A small fortune in BB creams and cushion compacts from Banila Co., IOPE, Holika Holika and Etude House. SCREAMfmLondon

This time last year, I shared some of my favorite Korean BB creams. Now it’s time to discuss South Korea’s most recent foundation innovation: the cushion compact. These cute, travel-sized compacts contain a sponge soaked with the foundation formula and a separate area for the uniquely designed sponge applicators. The creams provide light coverage as well as SPF, hydration and anti-aging ingredients. They’re so easy to use, there is no reason to return to clunky bottled foundations.

So, here are my picks for the best Korean cushion compacts:

IOPE Air Cushion Compact

I’ll start with the most obvious choice. The IOPE Air Cushion Compact is so popular in Asia that — allegedly — one is sold every 30 seconds. If you are going to buy one Korean makeup product, this should probably be it. It offers great sun protection (SPF 50), has cooling properties and lightweight coverage, so it’s perfect during the summer. It’s offered with natural, coverage or shimmery finishes. I chose the one with more coverage, but it is still one of the lightest creams I own. It’s sheer and blendable, and the sponge applicator helps the product go on super smoothly. This compact is legendary in Korea, and it’s worth checking out.

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Banila Co.’s VV Bouncing Cushion. SCREAMfmLondon

Banila Co. VV Bouncing Cushion

This is a product that I actually mentioned in my BB cream post last year, and it is still one of my absolute favorites. Of all these cushion compacts, the Banila Co. Bouncing Cushion provides the best and fullest coverage, so it can be used on a wider range of occasions for a wider variety of makeup looks. This is also the only compact that doesn’t use a sponge soaked with the formula for application — instead, you press the rim of the compact to dispense product as needed. I love the detail of this packaging, and the product works amazingly well. Cannot recommend this cushion enough.

Etude House Precious Mineral Magic Any Cushion

The Etude House Magic Any Cushion is more of a primer or base product to use before adding BB cream or foundation. These cushions are intended to create a smooth surface, moisturize and eliminate redness before you move on to the next step in your makeup routine. Etude House offers the compacts in three shades: pink, mint and peach. Pink is meant to lessen the appearance of dark circles and brighten pale skin tones. Mint helps cancel out redness, blotchiness or uneven skin color. Peach is meant to brighten dull skin and create a glowy finish. This product doesn’t really provide any coverage, but it prepares the skin so you can get the most out of your other compacts. I really enjoy using the mint cushion to begin my makeup routine.

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Holika Holika’s excellent and amazing collaboration with my favorite Japanese character, Gudetama, the lazy egg. SCREAMfmLondon

Holika Holika x Gudetama Face 2 Change Photo Ready Cushion

Ahhhhh. It’s so cute. Honestly, this formula does not really match my skin tone. But do I care? No, I do not. I allowed the salesgirl to swatch it for me, but I already knew that I would buy this product anyway. I love the entire Holika Holika/Gudetama collaboration. The cushion compacts come in three different designs, but the shades don’t vary much (very light with pink undertones). It provides a dewy finish, which is very popular in Korea but can be off-putting to anyone with oily skin. For me, the product is perfectly nice, and I will continue to use it just because. The coverage is fine. The product is fine. But the packaging is to die for(!!!), really. I love it so much.

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My favorite cushion compacts from IOPE, Holika Holika, Etude House and Banila Co. SCREAMfmLondon

I got a Lolita makeover in Harajuku, Tokyo

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Inside the “Alice in Wonderland” book at Maison de Julietta in Harajuku, Tokyo. SCREAMfmLondon

If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to be an adorable porcelain doll, Maison de Julietta in Harajuku, Tokyo has a solution for you.

Maison de Julietta is a small shop on the bottom floor of the LaForet Department Store that offers guests a “Harajuku Lolita Experience.” The experience includes a head-to-toe makeover featuring Lolita clothing, hair and makeup, followed by a professional photoshoot in the “Alice in Wonderland”-themed photo studio.

Maison de Julietta’s official spokesmodel is Misako Aoki. Misako is a well-known Lolita model and a government-appointed Japanese Kawaii Ambassador, which, yes, is a thing. So, you know that this shop is pretty legit.

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Lolita fashion at Maison de Julietta. SCREAMfmLondon

LaForet is filled with impressive and trendy boutiques selling all the latest fashion and accessories — from Lolita styles and beyond. The Maison de Julietta boutique is fully stocked with the biggest, most deluxe Lolita brands there are: Metamorphose, Angelic Pretty, Alice and the Pirates. My Lolita outfit was comprised mostly of pieces from Baby, The Stars Shine Bright — a popular brand that typically retails around $300-500 for just one jumper skirt.

The base price for a Lolita experience is 9,980 JPY (about $84), but there is an additional charge for adding a wig (1,500 JPY), false eyelashes (500 JPY) or an undershirt (200 JPY). Included in the package are three professional photographs from your shoot — any additional copies you want to save will cost 1,000 JPY each.

I recommend going all out with the wig and the eyelashes because YOLO, when in Rome, etc. Once you make your selections, the adventure begins.

“Do you know ‘kawaii’? You’re going to be hearing it a lot today.”

“First, you’re going to pick out a dress!” said one staff member, gesturing toward the impressive rack of clothing in one corner of the shop.

“Are you going to help me?” I asked weakly. I didn’t know the first thing about putting together a coordinate. I didn’t really know anything about Lolita in general, aside from the fact that it looked cute and fun.

I also didn’t feel particularly confident that I was going to be able to squeeze my entire self into these delicate, cutesy outfits. I expressed this concern, and she waved me off, assuring me that the clothes would fit and, if not, they just wouldn’t zip it up all the way and would take photos from the other side. I was lowkey discouraged by that prospect: it didn’t seem very Lolita to be walking around with your zipper hanging open, but what can you do?

I selected a bouncy pink dress with lots of lace detailing and an undershirt with delicate bell sleeves. (“All the foreigners pick this dress!” the staff member told me.) She helped me find matching glitter socks and chunky pink heels, and then sent me to change.

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(✿◠‿◠). SCREAMfmLondon

To my surprise, the dress fit! It was a Harajuku miracle. But I cannot say the same for the undershirt, which would not at all button over my chest. However, the jumper ends up covering everything but the sleeves, so it didn’t really matter. Add several layers of petticoats, fluff, and you’re all set.

Finally, I emerged! They told me I was wearing it wrong, so I slunk back to the changing room to fix it. Finally, I reemerged!

The next step is hair and makeup. The artist worked her magic on me with various blushes, glosses and, of course, the false lashes. I wish I had been paying more attention to her process, because this was the best my makeup has ever looked in my entire life.

After makeup, I picked out a dark, curly wig. I was very wary of this step, but they reassured me that I could take it off if I felt weird. And I definitely did feel weird: I laughed hysterically at how goofy I looked when I first put it on. But once it was styled into cute pigtails and topped with a pink bonnet, I had started to feel comfortable in my new skin.

I sat in the makeup chair and took more selfies in a few minutes than I had in the past few years.

“I thought you said it looked weird,” said one staff member, checking in on me after a while.

“Yeah, I did. But now I’m feeling it.”

“Yeah, but now I’m feeling it.”

Eventually, it was time for the grand finale: the professional photo shoot. The photographer was very skilled and had his shoots down to a science. He told me exactly where to stand, how to pose, and what props to hold. It put me at ease since I felt extremely awkward the entire time.

Honestly, I was having the time of my life just standing around wearing the outfit. I don’t particularly enjoy being photographed, but a Lolita’s gotta do what a Lolita’s gotta do.

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(ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧. SCREAMfmLondon

I was perfectly alright with only getting to keep three photos from the shoot. I knew that if we took 100 photos, I’d probably only like three of them.

And guess what! I only liked two of them. My selfies turned out way better. In all the professional photos, I have this highly skeptical look on my face; you can almost hear me asking, “Are you sure this is going to look cute…?” through the lens.

When the shoot was finished, I was very reluctant to change back into my street clothes and undo the transformation. I was amazed at how cute and comfortable I felt in the Lolita look. I wanted to wear it all day, and the next day, and every day after that.

Maison de Julietta’s Lolita experience was the most fun I had in Japan. The staff was sweet and helpful (you even get a little Lolita sugar cookie on your way out the door!), the clothes were darling, and the whole experience was a blast. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a unique taste of Japanese culture.

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(◡‿◡✿). SCREAMfmLondon

SMTown: Studio and dance class

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The studio on the fourth floor of SMTown at COEX Artium, guarded by Jonghyun. SCREAMfmLondon

SMTown Studio: Music Video, Photo, Recording, Hair & Makeup, Vocal, Dance, Dress

As you ascend to the top floors of SMTown at COEX Artium, the services become more deluxe. While you can purchase k-pop merchandise on the second floor, you can actually star in a k-pop music video on the third!

At the SMTown Studio, fans can be professionally styled with SM-approved costumes, hair and makeup; trained to create an audio recording of their favorite song; taught the corresponding dance moves; photographed and photoshopped to their hearts’ content; and filmed in a duplicate of their favorite music video. It honestly all looks like a ton of fun — especially if you have slight delusions of grandeur and a lot of money to blow.

The SMTown Studio packages range in price from about $30 (for a simple tour of the space and a commemorative photo) to $500 (for a two-hour video recording session). Most packages hover around the $100-200 range. A one-hour, one-on-one dance class costs about $100 (while a group class is around $80). A one-hour vocal training and recording session is $150, and it costs $200 (and, apparently, one and a half hours) to have your hair and makeup done.

I took a tour of the studio space that culminated in a one-hour dance class.

The tour begins at the makeup station, where marble tables are piled high with rows upon rows of blush, eye shadow, brushes and more. The walls are all covered with mirrors and “the best selfie lighting ever” (their words — not mine). I do not doubt, though, that SM Entertainment’s makeup artists could work some serious magic on us all with their superior beauty knowledge. It’s a tempting package, for sure.

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SMTown photo studio. SCREAMfmLondon

Behind the makeup station is the photo studio. It’s a pretty cavernous room decorated with yet-unreleased photos of SM artists for the guests to ogle. If you’re a fan of photoshoots, I’m sure this is a good one. I am not a fan of photoshoots, but they took a few photos of me anyway — and specified which way I should stand to make it easiest to photoshop.

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Some of TVXQ!’s costumes on display at SMTown. SCREAMfmLondon

My favorite stop on the tour is the wardrobe area. It’s a beautiful room full of costumes SM artists have worn onstage or at special events, all grouped by band and labeled with the individual members’ names. It was amazing to see these outfits up close and to examine all the details: every epaulette on SHINee’s jackets, every rhinestone on TVXQ!’s sleeves. Everything is so pristine, except for the scuff marks on the fabulous shoes. I loved it so much.

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The hard-working shoes of a k-pop star. SCREAMfmLondon

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SHINee’s outfits on display at SMTown. SCREAMfmLondon

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So much beautiful crushed velvet. SCREAMfmLondon

Next, we visited the vocal recording rooms. Allegedly, the rooms are really, really used by actual SM artists. This was emphasized many, many times during the tour. There are a number of different recording booths equipped with what is supposed to be the best, most advanced audio recording technology out there. I would not know the difference, so I’ll have to take their word for it.

From there, we journeyed through the hallways to the music video studio. The room is divided in two halves: EXO’s “Growl” on one side and Girls’ Generation’s “Gee” on the other.

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Music video set for EXO’s “Growl.” SCREAMfmLondon

This room was a little awkward for a few reasons. First, there were quite a few people sitting right in the middle of it doing some work on their computers while we’re just traipsing around, taking pictures of stuff.

Also, I happened to be there not long after Tao officially announced his departure from EXO and his subsequent lawsuit against SM Entertainment. It was a little too obvious that his name had been hastily painted over on a few of the walls while it still appeared on others. Awkward.

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Tao’s name hastily painted over at bottom right. SCREAMfmLondon

Once we departed from there, it was time for our dance lesson led by a professional SM choreographer. We stashed our belongings in fire engine red lockers that read “DREAMS COME TRUE” across the front and took our places to learn the dance for EXO’s song “Call Me Baby.”

The pace of the dance was very quick, but the instructor was patient and helpful. One hour was not enough time for any of us to master any of that, but we worked hard, and it was a blast. It seemed to go by very quickly, especially since a lot of time was taken when cameramen came in to record our practice and interview a few of us (including me, for some horrifying reason) about our interest in k-pop.

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Inside the SMTown dance studio. SCREAMfmLondon

It was a great class, though, and I was sad to leave. I could definitely imagine spending hours every day trying to perfect those dance moves, if I only could afford it.

The SMTown Studio experience was an interesting one. To be honest, the studio tour is a little boring and doesn’t offer much beyond selfie ops (and not very spectacular ones at that). I would recommend heading straight for your area of interest (singing, dancing, fashion) to maximize your enjoyment of the studio.

Check out my guide to SMTown’s SUM Celebrity Shop and LIVErary Café here.
Check out my guide to SMTown’s 3D printing theater here.

PEACEMINUSONE at Seoul Museum of Art

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G-Dragon’s PEACEMINUSONE exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Art. Tracy Emin’s neon work appears in the “(NON)Fiction Museum.” SCREAMfmLondon

G-Dragon is a masterful multimedia artist. Not only does he produce some of this generation’s most interesting and cutting-edge pop music as a member of Big Bang and as a solo artist, but he’s also delved into other styles of art. He’s an influential, worldwide fashion icon (he recently collaborated with designer Giuseppe Zanotti to launch a fantastic collection of glitter-covered footwear), and this summer he presented a collaborative, mixed-media exhibition called PEACEMINUSONE at the Seoul Museum of Art.

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Gwon O-sang’s painted sculpture “Untitled G-Dragon, A Space of No Name,” based on Raphael’s “St. Michael Vanquishing Satan,” shows G-Dragon as both St. Michael and Satan. SCREAMfmLondon

The exhibition included G-Dragon’s work alongside pieces from 14 other contemporary artists and teams including Park Hyung-geun and Bang & Lee, whose works ranged from photo illustrations to sculpture installations.

PEACEMINUSONE: Beyond the Stage included a “(NON)Fiction Museum” featuring clothing and accessories G-Dragon designed and wore during memorable performances, furniture from his own collection and other items of inspiration.

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Mannequins from Big Bang’s “Bae Bae” are featured at G-Dragon’s PEACEMINUSONE exhibition. SCREAMfmLondon

Although evidence of G-Dragon’s pop culture influence was certainly present, it did not overshadow the other artists’ works or GD’s overall vision, which was kind of cerebral. He explained “PEACEMINUSONE” as his vision of the world — the meeting point between peaceful utopia and imperfect reality.