Seattle Art Museum
June 27-September 8, 2013
1300 1st Avenue, Seattle
+1 206 654 3210

This comprehensive survey of avant-garde Japanese fashion features 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.

The exhibition 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. Curated by the eminent Japanese fashion historian Akiko Fukai, Director / Chief Curator at the Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI), the exhibition explores the distinctive sensibility of Japanese design and its sense of beauty embodied in clothing.

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.