Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion, on view at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) from June 27 through September 8, 2013, will feature more than 100 costumes by celebrated and original designers including Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo, and Yohji Yamamoto as well as younger designers influenced by popular culture and the dynamic street life of Tokyo.
The exhibition highlights the tremendous innovation of Japanese fashion designers from the early 1980s to the present who revolutionized the way we think of fashion today. The designs reflect a range of influences from Japanese aesthetics, reinterpretations of Western couture, punk aesthetics and Japanese street fashion.
Curated by the eminent Japanese fashion historian Akiko Fukai, Director / Chief Curator, the Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI), the exhibition explores the distinctive sensibility of Japanese design and its sense of beauty embodied in clothing. Bringing together over 100 garments from the last three decades - some never seen before in the United States - the exhibition also includes films of notable catwalk shows and documentaries.
"The exhibition shows how Japanese fashion design launched itself on the world stage in the 1980s," said Catharina Manchanda, SAM's Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art.
"Japanese fashion designers at that time developed breathtaking aesthetic positions that subsequently influenced a younger generation of Western designers including Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester and Alexander McQueen."
The exhibition is structured in a combination of thematic and monographic sections:
The first thematic section, In Praise of Shadows, explores the Japanese designers' interest in materials, textures and forms, and consciousness of light and shade. Most of the designs in this section are in black and white and revisit the moment when these minimal aesthetic proposals were first introduced to European audiences in the early 1980s. The costumes in this section include designs by Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, and Junya Watanabe.
The second section is Flatness and explores the simple geometries and interplay of flatness and volume in the work of Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo. This section includes a series of specially commissioned striking photographs by Japanese artist and photographer Naoya Hatakeyama.
In the next section the relationship between Tradition and Innovation is considered -from the radical reinvention of traditional Japanese garments and techniques, such as kimono and origami, to the technological advances in textile fabrication and treatment. It includes a series of paper garments by OhYa and Mintdesigns; Watanabe's seminal autumn / winter 2000 collection Techno Couture; examples of Kawakubo's deconstructionist work; as well as modern takes on traditional Japanese techniques and garments by Yamamoto, Kenzo and Matohu.
The final section focuses on the phenomenon that is Cool Japan. Featuring works by Tao Kurihara, Jun Takahashi for Undercover and Naoki Takizawa, among others. Cool Japan examines the symbiotic relationship between street style, popular culture and high fashion.
Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion
| by Senay Gokcen