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Seattle Art Museum presents "Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion" exhibition
Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons (Junya Watanabe), Autumn/Winter 2000. Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute, photo by Takashi Hatakeyama.
SEATTLE, WA.- This summer Seattle Art Museum presents Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion featuring more than 100 costumes by celebrated and original designers including Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo, and Yohji Yamamoto as well as younger designers influenced by popular culture and the dynamic street life of Tokyo.

This exciting exhibition, on view at the Seattle Art Museum June 27–September 8, 2013, highlights the tremendous innovation of Japanese fashion designers from the early 1980s to the present who revolutionized the way we think of fashion today. The designs reflect a range of influences from Japanese aesthetics, reinterpretations of Western couture, punk aesthetics and Japanese street fashion.

“I am delighted that the Seattle Art Museum is the first museum in the United States to share this fascinating and influential period in design history and to present this stunning collection from the Kyoto Costume Institute.” said Kimerly Rorschach, SAM’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Director.

Curated by the eminent Japanese fashion historian Akiko Fukai, Director/Chief Curator, the Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI), the exhibition explores the distinctive sensibility of Japanese design and its sense of beauty embodied in clothing. Bringing together over 100 garments from the last three decades—some never seen before in the United States—the exhibition also includes films of notable catwalk shows and documentaries.

“The exhibition shows how Japanese fashion design launched itself on the world stage in the 1980s,” said Catharina Manchanda, SAM’s Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art.

“Japanese fashion designers at that time developed breathtaking aesthetic positions that subsequently influenced a younger generation of Western designers including Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester and Alexander McQueen.”

The first Japanese designers who gained recognition in the West were Kenzo Takada and Issey Miyake in the 1970s. But the 1980s were the decade when Japanese designers forcefully made their mark. Traditionally, Western women’s fashion was and still is concerned with seductively packaging and unveiling the body.

Symmetry of the silhouette is one of Western fashion’s defining characteristics. But a legendary spring/summer show in Paris for the 1983 collection was a stark departure from such familiar positions. Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto were the designers who put forth a stark new aesthetic based on monochrome black and white colors and they presented asymmetrical, and above all artfully perforated and ripped designs that were deconstructive and the antithesis of a fitted gown.

The exhibition is structured in a combination of thematic and monographic sections:

The first thematic section, In Praise of Shadows, explores the Japanese designers’ interest in materials, textures and forms, and consciousness of light and shade. Most of the designs in this section are in black and white and revisit the moment when these minimal aesthetic proposals were first introduced to European audiences in the early 1980s. The costumes in this section include designs by Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, and Junya Watanabe.

The second section is Flatness and explores the simple geometries and interplay of flatness and volume in the work of Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo. This section includes a series of specially commissioned striking photographs by Japanese artist and photographer Naoya Hatakeyama.

In the next section the relationship between Tradition and Innovation is considered—from the radical reinvention of traditional Japanese garments and techniques, such as kimono and origami, to the technological advances in textile fabrication and treatment. It includes a series of paper garments by OhYa and Mintdesigns; Watanabe’s seminal autumn/winter 2000 collection Techno Couture; examples of Kawakubo’s deconstructionist work; as well as modern takes on traditional Japanese techniques and garments by Yamamoto, Kenzo and Matohu.

The final section focuses on the phenomenon that is Cool Japan. Featuring works by Tao Kurihara, Jun Takahashi for Undercover and Naoki Takizawa, among others. Cool Japan examines the symbiotic relationship between street style, popular culture and high fashion.

The exhibition also includes monographic presentations on each of the principle designers in the show featuring a range of archive and recent works: Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons), Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Junya Watanabe, and Jun Takahashi (Undercover).

Following its visit to Seattle, Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion will travel to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., where it will be on view November 16, 2013 through January 26, 2014.





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