Sunday, February 20, 2011

Future Beauty: Japanese Design and Rei Kawakubo

Ending just last week, the Barbican Art Gallery in London put on a revolutionary exhibit titled Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion. Curated by Akiko Fukai, Director of the Kyoto Costume Institute, the exhibition was the first in Europe to dive into the world of avant-garde Japanese design from the 80's to today. With curious sensibility of and fascination with color, folding, lines, and dimension, Japanese design has influenced modern fashion in ways many people don't realize - top designer Rei Kawakubo (of Comme des Garçons) is said to have been a big influence on Alexander McQueen. From the start of their careers 30 years ago, Rei and her peers began redesigning what fashion and modern style is, looks like, and feels like.

© Lyndon Douglas
© Lyndon Douglas

Future Beauty showcased designs by Rei, her protégé Junya Watanabe (called the "techno-couturier"), as well as Jun Takahashi, Tao Kurihara, Fumito Ganryu, Matohu, Akira Naka, Mina Perhonen and Mintdesigns.

See the video of the exhibition here:

More about Rei Kawakubo:

Rei has had no formal training in fashion design. Her designs (like many other prominent Japanese designers) are much closer to conceptual art than typical "fashion," but because of this, her lines are still doing extremely well, and play a key role in defining both the commercial fashion industry and fashion as art.

Rei at her new store in Beijing

From New York Magazine:

 "I really felt that I was on my own,” Ms. Kawakubo says. “I never felt my work had anything to do with being a woman. I am not a feminist. I was never interested in any movement as such. I just decided to make a company built around creation, and with creation as my sword, I could fight the battles I wanted to fight.”

On her design process:

I start every collection with one word,” Ms. Kawakubo says. “I can never remember where this one word came from. I never start a collection with some historical, social, cultural or any other concrete reference or memory. After I find the word, I then do not develop it in any logical way. I deliberately avoid any order to the thought process after finding the word and instead think about the opposite of the word, or something different to it, or behind it.”
One of CDG's temporary lines, "Black"
Rei's fearless designs are said to have influenced McQueen, for obvious reasons
Reminds me of All Saints, which may also be Japanese influenced

Junya Watanabe's designs are even more architectural than Rei's

 Images via Barbican, Grazia Daily, Fashion Claim, NY Mag, Champagne and Heels, Chimera Studios, and Ego Design.


Ioana Liliana said...

I love this post. I'm going to publish some photos with a jacket that's inspired from a kimono, and your post came just in time!


The Odd and Chic said...

How cool! I wish you could buy such outrageous dresses at a reasonable price!


Katie said...

This was an interesting read! I heard of CdG so many times, but I actually never had a clue that there was a lady behind this company/label. I mean, Comme des Garcons... doesn't that mean 'Like the/those Boys' (excuse my rusty French!)? Haha. Thank you for sharing this!

Haute World said...

I actually went to this exhibition and it was incredible. I was expecting the usual Yamamoto, Kawakubo and Miyake, but I loved that they showcased some lesser known Japanese designers too.

Alex said...

wow! the first dress, that's real art!!