Ready To Wear: 25 years on, it's all too easy to be blasé about Japanese fashion
Monday 25 October 2010
Anyone doubting the impact that Japanese fashion has on what we choose every day to wear should pay a visit to the excellent Future Beauty show at the Barbican.
More than a quarter of a century since names like Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto and more came to the international fashion arena, it's all too easy to be blasé about their contribution.
Walk into the first room, though, where onlookers are met by an oversized black dress with exaggerated funnel neck and asymmetric hem, courtesy of Comme des Garçons, and one could be forgiven for pulling it off the mannequin and leaving in it. Certainly, no one would think it was dated – which, given that it was first shown in 1983, says quite something.
The fact that the exhibition is organised in conjunction with the Kyoto Costume Institute, which holds a huge and valuable archive, adds considerable credence. That said, there is nothing self-congratulatory about the show. Where it could have been po-faced to the point of earnest, it is also playful – focussing on the humour and interaction that is called for to appreciate the designers featured, just as it does on the sobriety of some of their work.
And so, alongside the requisite dark and distressed garments is Comme's famous Body Meets Dress collection (above), crafted in candy-coloured gingham and distorted by oversized, kidney-shaped bumps. (Kawakubo has said that this is the work she is most proud of.)
Also of note is Miyake's A-POC project, brilliantly displayed both as a single roll of poppy-red fabric and cut down into garments. Launched at the turn of the century, it invited the fashion follower to cut out and keep her own complete outfit. It was up to her to follow the dot-to-dot pattern broadly dictated by the designer, and to decide whether her T-shirt should be short or long-sleeved, worn with a mini, midi or maxi-skirt, and so forth.
While an aesthetic is shared to some extent – the wish to envelop more than expose, the insistence of paper-flat footwear and black – it is ultimately the differences that stand out. That is as it should be. For their continuing insistence on individuality and innovation alone, these designers are, after all, exceptional.
Future Beauty: 30 years of Japanese fashion, until 6 February, Barbican Art Gallery
Life & Style blogs
Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
Victoria Beckham's clothing sales double to £30 million in one year
GTA 5: Christmas arrives in Los Santos as update brings snowball fights, festive jumpers and a homing missile launcher
'Tis the season!: Google celebrates Christmas Eve with second animated Doodle
Christmas 2014: Jesus was not born in a stable, says theologian
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 Northern Lights in the UK: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...
£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...