We Went There: CHKRA, The World’s First Couture Sound Spa

Published October 29, 2019

Therapy. Pressed Juice. Crystals. Meditation. More Therapy. These are just a few of the methods we’ve explored and exploited in the search for the best way to get in touch with our inner self.  In one, or many ways, we’re all wanting to Goopify our lives, and although many may reject the goopery of it all, we’ve all tried it. Living a relaxed, well-centered life—or at least pretending to—has become a defining mission of our time, so much so that the self-care industry is allegedly worth a staggering, but not surprising, $10 billion. This notion of commodified self-love, and an eerie post-fashion week realization, is what eventually led Tsung—a NY-based sound artist, practicing Buddhist, and fashion insider—to open CHKRA, the self-described world’s first couture sound spa. “We came out of Fashion Week and we were watching people worship clothes at the altar. We ourselves, were waiting in line to get into the tent for a 15 minute walk,” Tsung told me when I visited CHKRA. “We wanted, in a cheeky, playful-way, to capture that feeling we all seek without contributing to the consumerist approach to fashion.”

And so the year-long process of composing CHKRA began, an experience where guests are invited to “relax and heal” while listening to the pure energy extracted out of seven fashion brands: AXWG (Alexander Wang), ISMK (Issey Miyake), RKWN (Commes de Garçons), LVTN (Louis Vuitton), CHNL (Chanel), YVSL (Yves Saint Laurent), and BRBY (Burberry). Although it may all sound a little too ethereal, there is actual methodology behind CHKRA. Tsung and his team spent one year extracting—capturing the sound of flagship stores in New York,  snippets of the designers voices, and BTS sounds from Fashion Week—the purest energy of each of the brands. Tsung then turned each compilation of sound into sound therapies, matching each brand to one of the seven key Chakra points of the body, from Root to Crown, which means from head to toe.

Guests of CHKRA sit in seven “sensory environments” (aka booths) and listen to the sound therapies, then an on-site specialist reveals which brand corresponds to each therapy and which chakra point it relates to. In my case it was CHNL, associated with the third-eye chakra which is typically associated with inner wisdom. “Designers have in some ways borrowed the language of religion and promise the fulfillment, spiritually, that religion was supposed to offer,” Tsung explained. Although, it all sounds so Goop, the exhibit rides the dangerous line between mockery and introspection as Ellen Bjerborn, CHKRA on-site specialist, puts it. “We’ve been juxtaposing play and seriousness. Is this real? Is this not real? Perhaps the end goal is just that: it doesn’t matter if it’s real or not, if it makes you feel good it works,” she says. After all, CHKRA is a pop-up art installation, and a collaborative effort, between Tsung, Special Special owner Wen-You, and professional aura readers. Like most pop-ups, CHKRA does offer a tangible take away: sealed energy packaged in chrome outer space-y pouches with a mantra recitation printed on a receipt. Mine read: coco, liberation, chic, boy, pearl, and No. 5.  “I guess, jokingly, it’s literal proof that you had this experience,” Bjerborn told me. Fashion and spirituality, an unexpected collaboration but like most, one that will most definitely be shared on Instagram—because if it’s not on the gram, did it really happen?