Winter Is aespa's Versatile Enigma
Story by Crystal Bell / Photography by Mok Jungwook / Makeup by Jo Eun Bee / Hair by Yoon Seo Ha / Digital garments by The Dematerialised
Inside a packed arena in the bustling Songpa-gu district of Seoul, aespa debuted "Salty & Sweet," an enticing new track that best illustrates their charm. “‘Cause I am salty and sweet," they sing. "Irresistible, a different type of treat." And while each member displays their own kind of captivating duality, perhaps the most fascinating is WINTER, the 22-year-old vocalist who possesses a piercing falsetto and staggering versatility.
She is an enigma. There's a coolness to WINTER's performance; she can deliver any note with an impassive gaze and soldierly composure. On stage, she's steely smolders, sharp movements and blunt edges. (And blunt bangs.) Within the complex world of the aespaverse, WINTER takes on the role of an "armamenter," or someone highly skilled in weaponry — a perfect designation for someone who once considered being in the military and loves action movies. But away from the stage lights, WINTER is shy. As the group's sole introvert (her MBTI is ISFP), WINTER can come off as quiet and introspective, but to those she's closest to, she's warm and funny. She's bright and bubbly, delicate but also deadly on stage — someone who can pull off any concept.
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At aespa's recent concert, SYNK: Hyper Line, WINTER showcased just how lethal she can be when she surprised fans with an electric guitar solo during their opening number, "Girls." Engulfed in stage flames and attitude, WINTER embodied the aura of a true rockstar. Later in the night, she performed "Lips," a sweet ballad that exercised her vocal prowess and honey tone. WINTER's voice is as agile as her persona; she can both croon and growl, be soft and ferocious. "Don't you know I'm a savage?" she asserts with a pout on their first EP, Savage.
It's no surprise then that WINTER has collaborated with some of SM Entertainment's most legendary voices, from her recent duet with Super Junior's Yesung to her harmony with Girls' Generation's Taeyeon and TVXQ's Changmin on the R&B stunner "Priority." She's also a member of SM's rotational girl group, Girls on Top, alongside KARINA.
WINTER's duality is also reflected in her look. She likes to feel both strong and elegant, always emitting an air of mystery. So when she was tasked with designing a digital accessory for PAPER and The Dematerialised, she chose a hair clip because, in her own words, "Changing my hair is a creative outlet for me, and I feel like it can elevate any look."
Read on to find out WINTER's creative process when designing her digital attire and get the inside scoop on how aespa channeled their inner divas during their PAPER cover shoot.
æ-WINTER: You’re so adorable on your PAPER cover. What was shooting this like?WINTER: This PAPER cover was a really unique shoot because all of the clothing we designed digitally and weren’t wearing on set. We really had to channel our inner divas to feel cute, strong and chic while on set so that attitude would translate to the final images.
æ-WINTER: Whatever you did, it worked. Your hair color is ever-changing, which is something both myself and our MYs love. Does hair style and color play an important part in your fashion?
WINTER: Changing my hair is a creative outlet for me and I feel like it can elevate any look. For this shoot, we were really going for a fine line between dark, mysterious and chic. I think the dark hair really makes the denim clothes pop while making me feel strong and elegant.
æ-WINTER: I wish we could have all been on set together. Are there any fun stories from the shoot that you can share?
WINTER: I was most impressed with KARINA on shoot day. Her look that we designed originally had a big puffer jacket that we all thought would look really good ahead of shoot day. Then, when we were on set and really working through the creative, KARINA spoke up and felt that her look would feel stronger without the jacket. It was so impressive and I'm really proud of her.
æ-WINTER: Awww, yay KARINA. I know that we all have unique accessories as part of our full looks. Can you share more about our hair clip?
WINTER: Yes. As I said, I love playing with my hair and switching up the color, so it felt natural that my accessory would be a hair clip. I love how it sits on my bangs and pulls together the full denim moment.
æ-WINTER: I love it, too. I know that all of our MYs will have the opportunity to wear these digital goods as well. I can’t wait to see everyone wearing our hair clip, KARINA’s ear-cuff, NINGNING’s tie and GISELLE’s necklace. Let's #BreakTheInternet with our looks as PAPER would say.
WINTER: I can’t wait to see all our MYs wearing our digital capsule collection. It is going to be so cool to have aespa take over the PAPER website for a week.
æ-WINTER: Outside of this project, anything else you’re excited about this year?
WINTER: We owe everything to our fans and I'm really looking forward to having more moments to connect with them in person and perform our music for them. Thank you for all of your support.
Warner Records’ first K-pop act aespa, PAPER, The Dematerialised, SM Entertainment and Warner Music Group have released their digital capsule collection, alongside the unveiling of their first PAPER cover. The collection is available at TheDematerialised.com. The digital capsule collection co-designed by aespa, PAPER and The Dematerialised includes three tiers of products. Items from the digital capsule collection are available for purchase via credit card or cryptocurrency payments.
The most exclusive pieces from the collection are four, one-of-a-kind æ-fits. Each æ-fit is designed around the members of aespa — KARINA, WINTER, GISELLE and NINGNING — and worn by each member on the five PAPER covers rolling out this week. Each æ-fit comes with a ticket to an aespa concert, exclusive PAPER digital cover, bespoke virtual dressings inclusive of an AR filter and additional perks from DMAT. There is only one of each design and four designs in total, each priced at 2,000 EUR.
The next tier of the virtual collection consists of four æ-accessories. Created around each aespa members’ signature symbols, the individual æ-accessories are an anti-gravity collection of powerful bijouterie. All æ-accessories come with an AR filter to wear the piece, an exclusive PAPER digital cover and additional perks from DMAT. There is a supply of 200 for each accessory and each is priced at 100 EUR.
The widest available component to the digital capsule collection are unique generative æ-pets. Inspired by the first alien featured in the 1998 “Dreams Come True” music video by S.E.S. and reimagined by aespa, each æ-pet is uniquely generated by AI algorithm. Owners of the æ-pets can use them as a profile picture, play with their unique filter on TikTok and Instagram, and share their special powers online. These one-of-a-kind friends are here to make your metaverse journey extra mægical. There are 10,000 unique generative æ-pets, each priced at 25 EUR.
The project is minted on the Polygon blockchain, a leading carbon-neutral Layer-2 Ethereum scaling platform. Polygon’s tools ensure that aespa, PAPER and The Dematerialised’s digital capsule collection is as sustainable, inclusive, and accessible as possible. More information on Polygon’s sustainability efforts, including their carbon-negative footprint, can be found here.
Photography: Mok Jungwook
Makeup: Jo Eun Bee
Hair: Yoon Seo Ha
Digital capsule collection production: The Dematerialised
DEMAT founders: Marjorie Hernandez and Karinna Grant
CGI and cover design: William Stapel
Garments and æ-pet design: Carola Dixon
Garment design: Jiyoon Myung and Joyxxi
3D accessories and AR: Romain Gauthier
AR: Schirin Negahbani
Head of production: Veselina Tsankova
Product manager: Alexandra Ilg
Head of partnerships: Gila Bonakdar
Head of marketing: Ann-Britt Dittmar
Editor-in-chief: Justin Moran
aespa management: Choi Seongwoo, Park Sungjun
aespa creative direction: Park Junyoung, Kim Hyunwoo, Mo Nari, Jo Woocheol, Son Saerom and Kim Wook
aespa IP business management: Park Seolah, Chun Jihong and Gil Minhyeong