The Japanese “fashion revolution” of the 1980s dramatically transformed the world of fashion. Avant-garde Japanese designers such as Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons introduced a radically new conception of fashion to the catwalks of Paris. Utilizing innovative textile technologies, together with aspects of traditional Japanese clothing culture, these designers were instrumental in creating a new relationship between body and clothes, a new attitude toward the beauty of imperfection, and a new appreciation of avant-garde fashion as “art.”
The 1980s are now history. How has Japanese fashion evolved in the 20+ years since then? Who are the new Japanese designers? What is the role of Japanese youth fashion? Where does Tokyo fit in the hierarchy of fashion’s world cities? Is Japan still the future?
Japan continues to be on the cutting edge, maybe even the bleeding edge, of fashion. However, Japanese fashion today embraces not only the cerebral, avant-garde looks associated with the first wave of Japanese design in the 1980s, but also a range of youth-oriented street styles. Indeed, contemporary Japanese fashion remains significant globally precisely because it mixes elements of the avant-garde (pushing the aesthetic envelope at the level of “high” art) with aspects of subcultural and street style. Equally significant, however, is the Japanese obsession (not too strong a word) with perfecting classic utilitarian garments, such as jeans, sneakers, and leather jackets. Extreme, even fanatical, attention to detail is characteristic of much of the best Japanese fashion.
Japan Fashion Now is the first exhibition to explore contemporary Japanese fashion in all its radical creativity, from designer fashion to street style, including menswear. An introductory gallery devoted to the Japanese “fashion revolution” of the 1980s includes asymmetrical, “deconstructed” garments by Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, as well as avant-garde styles by Issey Miyake, “Orientalist” fashions by Kenzo and Hanae Mori, and pop-culture jumpsuits by Kansai Yamamoto.
The main gallery features a dramatic mise-en-scène evoking the iconic cityscape of 21st-century Tokyo. Ensembles by Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, and Tao Kurihara exemplify the evolution of deconstruction and reconstruction, as well as the influence of sub-cultural styles such as punk and the Japanese cult of cuteness. A range of looks by Jun Takahashi of Undercover link the cute and the scary, the beautiful and the ugly, the animate and the inanimate, the strange and the strangely beautiful. New designers featured include Hiroyuki Horihata and Makiko Sekiguchi of Matohu (who are inspired by Japanese aesthetics), the flamboyant Toshikazu Iwaya of Iwaya33, and Chitose Abe of sacai.
An entire platform is devoted to some of Tokyo’s up-and-coming menswear designers. Former boxer Arashi Yanagawa of John Lawrence Sullivan, Daisuke Obana of N.Hoolywood, Koji Udo of Factotum, Yasuhiro Mihara of Miharayasuhiro , Takeshi Osumi of Phenomenon (who just presented his first spectacular runway collection in Tokyo), and Yosuke Aizawa of White Mountaineering will be among those featured, as will be the pioneering label, Number (N)ine.
Japan Fashion Now
Special Exhibitions Gallery
September 17, 2010 through January 8, 2011 / Extended through April 2, 2011!
Visit the Online Exhibition
The Museum at FIT
Seventh Avenue at 27th Street
New York, New York 10001-5992
24-Hour Exhibition Information Line is 212 217.4558.
Online: http://www.fitnyc.edu/museum and http://fashionmuseum.fitnyc.edu