Fashion Lifestyle

Japanese Fashion Design

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.

Issey Miyake

Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçon

Kansai Yamamoto

Junya Watanabe

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.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    pickyandpushy.com
    January 1, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    It was fun to happen upon your blog. I used to own the Issey Miyake Pao evening coat that you show. I gave it to LACMA. I wore it to the opening night gala for Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles. Before that, I sometimes wore it as a robe over a pretty night gown. I have a new blog, pickyandpushy.com. Maybe you can check it out. All best wishes for a wonderful 2017! Cindy Canzoneri

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