wed 15/08/2018

Fashion Gallery: Future Beauty - 30 Years of Japanese Fashion, Barbican Gallery | reviews, news & interviews

Fashion Gallery: Future Beauty - 30 Years of Japanese Fashion, Barbican Gallery

Fashion Gallery: Future Beauty - 30 Years of Japanese Fashion, Barbican Gallery

Astounding sartorial aesthetics from Japan

Fashion by Mikio Sakabe

Exhibitions about fashion tend to divide the public. Those passionately interested in fashion go to them; everybody else doesn’t. There’s a prevailing view that we already hear enough about top models, superstar designers and their attendant dramas through the media, the high street and the imposition of having to go and buy the stuff, without extending the experience into the art gallery. And that’s a crying shame, since London has had a whole wave of superb exhibitions highlighting the aesthetics of fashion – Skin & Bone, Viktor & Rolf, Maison Martin Margiela – that the general public has remained largely unaware of.

Now we have the best yet: a sensational eye and brain-opening view of Japanese fashion that anyone concerned with contemporary visual culture absolutely must see – whether they think they’re interested in fashion or not.

Beginning with the wave of great designers who revolutionised Japanese, and global, fashion in the 1980s – Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons – and moving up to date, Future Beauty takes the twin poles of traditional Japanese aesthetics, ascetic formalism and raunchy phantasmagoria, and pushes them into extreme post-modernity. From Junya Watanabe’s billowing masses of concertinaed paper to Yamamoto's gravity-defying, swirling hemlines, the works here (one hesitates to call them simply clothes) push structure to the maximum, with a magisterial disregard for the apparent limitations of materials and the human body. Yet the results never look perverse. That sense of intrinsic aesthetic rightness we think of as peculiarly Japanese is always present.

What is perhaps most surprising is how many of the younger designers, including Tao Kurihara and the Mintdesigns duo, attended London’s Central St Martins School of Art. While that will help bolster the slightly complacent belief that British art education is the best in the world, you can’t help feeling that these young Japanese geniuses have pushed what they’ve learned here into areas no British designer has yet approached.

  1. Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garçons. Picture: Anthea Simms
  2. Issey Miyake. Picture: Anthea Simms
  3. Kosuke Tsmura, Final Home
  4. Mintdesigns
  5. Yohji Yamamoto
  6. Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garçons
  7. Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garçons
  8. Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garçons
  9. Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garçons
  10. Lambda Print 2009
  11. Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garçons
  12. Rei Kawakubo, Comme des Garçons

[bg|/ART/mark_hudson/Japanese_Fashion]

A sensational, brain-opening view of Japanese fashion that anyone concerned with contemporary visual culture absolutely must see

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