Beginning in October 2022 in Seoul, then travelling to four continents and 22 different countries before finally returning to the South Korean capital last month, BLACKPINK’s Born Pink World Tour was an exercise in ambition and scale. Over the course of 11 months, an estimated 1.8 million fans across the globe were treated to an array of tracks from the Korean girl band’s latest album and classics from the past half-decade – backdropped by giant-scale, immersive production.
“It was a whirlwind,” recalls Ace Bowerman, the creative director of the Born Pink World Tour – a key figure in bringing the music to the stage. “I started working with them around April last year, and then the tour started in October, so it wasn’t a long period of time.”
Formed in 2016, the K-pop sensations have quickly risen to become one of the most, followed girl bands in the entire world. It’s difficult to be hyperbolic here – their 2018 track ‘뚜두뚜두 (DDU-DU DDU-DU)’, currently has a wild 2.1 billion views on YouTube. With that success they have developed of a distinct BLACKPINK aesthetic and persona. Their concerts – with bold pyrotechnics, lavish lasers and boundary-pushing video backdrops, were a chance for fans to immerse and lose themselves in the BLACKPINK universe.
“With BLACKPINK, the fans are crucially important, they are absolutely the heart of everything,” Ace explains. “So it was definitely important to step into their world and see what their fans relate to. There are two sides to BLACKPINK and their femininity – there’s a softness, but also a power, so it was about really emphasising that so fans can draw that connection and truly feel like they can see all aspects of BLACKPINK.”
The show was broken up into four separate acts, with the two-hour performance following a loosely sketched narrative arc. Act one was placed in a vibrant, forested, fairylike garden setting, which then shifted from enchanting colours to a black-and-white aesthetic for the second section. The third act showcased the individual members of the band and their solo tracks, before bringing them all back together for the finale.
“They have such rich visuals throughout all their music videos, throughout their lyrics,” Ace says. “Keeping the connection with the audience was crucial, so finding [a storyline] was this almost coming of age story – starting out at this age of innocence, moving into more of a strong, military, monochromatic vibe, and then floating through this huge celebration of who BLACKPINK are.”
Much of that begins with the clothes they wear. Each of the members are representatives of some of the world’s most reputable luxury fashion houses, including Chanel, Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent. “We kept that in mind throughout,” they continue. “Fashion is one of their big influences, drawing that into the show and using that as a good starting point for us. I think you can see that – we tried to go with this 90s black-and-white, super high fashion vibe and I think it turned out really well.”
Behind the scenes, songs, and fireworks, the band are also pushing boundaries in different ways. The tour’s production team was entirely made up of women. Such setups are characteristic to K-pop, which Ace thinks the Western pop music industry – which is dominated by men – can take notes from. “It was a dream to work with BLACKPINK – it was such an experience,” they say. “I had no idea I was stepping into a full female production team. I’d never met a female lighting designer, that was special and that’s something I hope we can learn from K-pop.”
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