Ornament Magazine

VOL37.1 2014

Ornament is the leading magazine celebrating wearable art. Explore jewelry, fashion, beads; contemporary, ancient and ethnographic.

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Robin Updike fiber arts presented by Kawakubo and Yamamoto startled the Western fashion world and, to a certain extent, transformed it. "Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion," an informative and frequently beautiful exhibition recently showed at the Seattle Art Museum, the exhibition then moved to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, where it is on view to January 26, 2014. "Future Beauty" is curated by Akiko Fukai, Director and Chief Curator of the Kyoto Costume Institute, one of Japan's most noteworthy fashion history and costume foundations. With most of the clothing on loan from the Kyoto Costume Institute's collection, there are outfits by Japan's most celebrated contemporary designers from Kenzo Takada and Issey Miyake, the first Japanese designers to sell their clothing in the West, to clothing made in the last few years by Junya Watanabe and Rei Kawakubo. Internationally famous for her Comme des Garçons label, after more than forty years in fashion design, Kawakubo is still highly influential. The first gallery at the Seattle Art Museum showcased pieces from the historic 1983 Spring/ Summer Paris shows by Kawakubo and Yamamoto as well as clothing made as recently as 2009 by Watanabe and others. The curators here quote from "In Praise of Shadows," a famous 1933 essay by the Japanese writer Junichiro Tanizaki, who described a Japanese preference for nuance in aesthetics of all kinds, whether in literature or design. He praised shadows because they COMME DES GARÇONS by Rei Kawakubo, Spring/Summer 1997. Photograph by Takashi Hatakeyama. All garments collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute. 21 ORNAMENT 37.1.2013 N ow that asymmetrical silhouettes, unfinished hems and monochromatic palettes are well established in mainstream fashion, it is useful to remember that only thirty years ago such aesthetics were decidedly outré even in the world of high fashion. As late as the 1980s trend-setting high fashion came only from Paris or Milan and it took an expert eye to discern much difference between French and Italian design. Then the Japanese arrived and everything changed. In the autumn of 1982 Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto presented their 1983 Spring/Summer shows in Paris and the fashion world reeled. Though the two Japanese designers had been successful in Japan for a decade, the minimalist, deconstructed, black and white collections they sent down the runways in Paris in 1982 were groundbreaking. While French and Italian designers were making clothes that made women look like countesses, movie stars or well-heeled hippies, Kawakubo and Yamamoto presented clothing that was more liquid sculpture than costume. The Japanese designers played with light and shadow with elaborate draping and carefully torn fabrics. Rather than accentuating the female form with complicated darts and tucks, as in European and American fashion, Kawakubo and Yamamoto made clothing that was layered and cocooned so that the wearer became a part of a moving sculpture. Though their ideas were grounded in the nuances of traditional Japanese design, the superficial austerity of the clothing

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