Is fashion art?
It’s an old debate. Museums are now consistently displaying fashion with the same consideration as “traditional” art. Whether you think fashion is functional art or a business the incorporation of fashion into galleries at least recognizes its cultural significance. The Denver Art Museum’s current exhibit about Japanese fashion design shows the influence of a few designers on the fashion industry during the 80’s and 90’s.
Shock Wave: Japanese Fashion Design, 1980s–1990s was curated by Florence Müller. It showcases 70 works by designers who started a fashion revolution in Paris. The exhibition features designs by Issey Miyake, Junya Watanabe, Kansai Yamamoto, Kenzo Takada, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto.
Clothing in the 80’s and 90’s was often form-fitting to show off a woman’s figure. These designers challenged the standards of female beauty by changing the silhouette. Many of the looks are over-sized and silhouettes have padding to distort the body or are straight to hide the body’s shape. Sweaters and jackets have large colorful graphics. Some of the garments look incomplete with frayed stitching. The clothing is accompanied by videos of the original Paris fashion shows where most of the models are in flat shoes. Even by today’s standards some of the looks are avant-garde. Here are some of my favorite looks.
Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçon
High fashion looks good in a gallery so spend some time these holidays exploring the DAM. Shock Wave runs through May 28. You can also stop by that other costume exhibit from that little-known Star Wars franchise.