Monday, January 31, 2011

30 years of Japanese Fashion

Japanese designers have created some of the most innovative and stunning pieces of the past 30 years and this exhibit highlights just how influential Japanese culture and western culture are upon each other. Featuring iconic designers such as Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamoto and Rei Kawakubo, fashion through the last 30 years is exceptionally shown in such a way that you feel a fitting sense of progression.
Adhering to Japanese tradition, the pioneering designers adapt the trends of western culture and sexuality into their pieces. It is clear what the designers are influenced by: the origami shaped dresses and the detailed images of nature printed onto the fabrics exude the culture and tradition of Japan.
 The exhibition shows just how fashion has changed over the decades, moving from simplicity and monochrome to embellishments and eccentricity. Everything from urban street style to the classic kimono traditions can be seen here, and you really do get a sense of ‘fashion through the ages.’ The descriptions are printed onto fabrics, hanging from the ceiling, whilst film recordings of iconic shows are projected onto the walls surrounding the pieces. Fabrics have been framed and hung high above their finished counterparts, accentuating how simple shapes can often lead to the most complicated images.

Not only does the Barbican show historically prolific pieces, but if exhibits new designers and their cutting-edge designs, showing how Japanese fashion still leads the way in new trends. This section focuses on the ‘Next Generation’ designers like Chitose Abe, Mikio Sakabe, as well as labels such as Comme des Garcons ad Mint Designs. It is in the clear historical development and innovation throughout the exhibition, that 30 years is marked not as an end, but as a beginning, of fashion and beauty in eastern countries. 

How do I look?

When I was asked this question, I wondered which way I was expected to approach it. Was it a simple description of my physical appearance? Because I could do that in a few lines: I have long brown hair, brown eyes and I’m really quite short. Today I wore a checked Topshop shirt and a bodycon skirt, both off eBay. I had my tattered New Look brogues on and a few vintage accessories. You could say I looked pretty much like every other 20 year old on Oxford Street that morning. If that was all that was being asked with me, then I’m already done. But I don’t think that was the whole object of this task. I saw this as an opportunity to really think about how I appear to those around me in different situations. To be honest, I’m not the easiest person to describe. How I behave and who I appear to be can vary pretty strongly from mood to mood. If I’m feeling happy and chirpy, having had a good long sleep, then I can seem very confident and even a little eccentric. If I’m tired or uncomfortable in a situation, then I probably seem quite timid and shy. I think it’s this two-sided aspect which is more true to who I really am. I don’t have the most self-confidence, but I try to appear as if I do, so as to avoid any judgement. I’m not entirely sure if this comes across, but either way, it’s the truth. If I’m honest with myself, I think I look like any young woman does when trying to find her way in fashion and life in general. Confident, yet scared. Feigned sophistication with youth and naivety hidden underneath. Hopefully, I look happy. 

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