Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion

Photographs by Lyndon Douglas

This afternoon, I had the real pleasure of visiting the exhibition Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion at the Barbican - the same art space where I took in the Ron Arad: Restless exhibition in February, also wonderful.  Future Beauty, an exhibition highlighting Japanese high fashion since 1980, simply blew me away.  Garmets from the 80s, 90s and today by Rei Kawakubo (founder of Commes de Garcons), Junya Watanabe (current lead designer for Commes de Garcons), Issey Miyake & Yohji Yamamoto were on view alongside garments by a younger and just-as-talented group of Japanese designers including Taro Horiuchi, Minä Perhone & Né-Net, among others.

As the visit was a part of my current MA program, I also had the pleasure of having a fashion expert/theorist there to guide our small group around.  The Japanese, I learned, have a very progressive approach to fashion.  For one, their concept of "sexy" traditionally includes loose fitting, heavily draped garments, clothing which keeps secret the beauty/mystery beneath.  Contrast this with Lycra, Spandex, Skinny Jeans and the rest.  The clothes designed for women, in particular, are in fact intended to attract men, but to her mind first before her body - at least this is the stated intention of a number of the designers themselves.  And finally, the separation between woman's and menswear is much more fluid than we see in the West, less concerned with maintaining the boundaries we adhere to here in the West.

Here are a few more photos from the exhibition.  It really was special being there, inspirational really.  And while this song was not playing at the show, nor is it Japanese, it somehow reminds me of how it felt to be there today, while the snow painted the London streets outside.  Have a listen...

Foals - Spanish Sahara (Matthew Adams Remix)

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