Japan Fashion Now: On View at The Museum at FIT in New York City September 17, 2010-January 8, 2011

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The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT) presents Japan Fashion Now, the first exhibition to explore contemporary Japanese fashion in all its radical creativity, from avant-garde high fashion to street and subcultural styles, from menswear to new designers. Approximately 100 ensembles will be on display, some two dozen in an introductory gallery devoted to the Japanese “fashion revolution” of the 1980s, and the rest in a dramatic mise-en-scène evoking the iconic cityscape of 21st-century Tokyo.

Gothic/Punk duo Hangry and Angry (singers Hitomi Yoshizawa and Rika Ishikawa). The singers’ aliases were inspired by the cartoon cats Hangry and Angry created by illustrator GASHICON for h. NAOTO. © HANGRY&ANGRY 2009 Project. Photograph courtesy of S-inc.

Japan continues to be on the cutting-edge - maybe even the bleeding edge - of fashion," says museum director and exhibition curator, Dr. Valerie Steele.

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT) presents Japan Fashion Now, the first exhibition to explore contemporary Japanese fashion in all its radical creativity, from avant-garde high fashion to street and subcultural styles, from menswear to new designers. Approximately 100 ensembles will be on display, some two dozen in an introductory gallery devoted to the Japanese “fashion revolution” of the 1980s, and the rest in a dramatic mise-en-scène evoking the iconic cityscape of 21st-century Tokyo.

Featured designers include Jun Takahashi of Undercover (described by journalist Suzy Menkes as “the essence of Japanese cool”), Hirooka Naoto (the designer behind h.NAOTO, Japan’s most successful Gothic-Punk-Lolita fashion empire, who has said, “I aim to be the most extreme and scandalous brand in the world”), and menswear designer Takeshi Osumi of Phenomenon (who just presented his first spectacular runway collection in Tokyo).

Previous museum exhibitions have focused on the first generation of avant-garde designers who came to prominence in the 1980s: Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, and Yohji Yamamoto. Japan Fashion Now acknowledges their historic contribution to global fashion but also moves beyond the first wave of Deconstruction to explore how dramatically Japanese fashion has changed over the past twenty years. Among the new Japanese designers featured are Chitose Abe of sacai, Hiroyuki Horihata and Makiko Sekiguchi of Matohu, and Hiroki Nakamura of visvim.

Equally compelling is the range of Japanese street fashion - from the elegant and bizarre costumes called Kamikaze suits worn by members of Japan’s Speed Tribe to the hyper-cute outfits of the Princess Decoration Style. Also on display will be Japan’s iconic school uniforms, famous Lolita brands such as Baby, the Stars Shine Bright (featured in the cult movie Kamikaze Girls, and the latest Forest Girl looks. Idol singers Hangry and Angry will lend their own clothes by h.NAOTO.

“Japan continues to be on the cutting-edge - maybe even the bleeding edge - of fashion,” says museum director and exhibition curator, Dr. Valerie Steele. “However, Japanese fashion today embraces not only the cerebral, avant-garde looks associated with the first wave of Japanese design in the 1980s, but also a range of youth-oriented looks, such as Gothic Lolita and Forest Girl styles. Some of the best designers combine avant-garde and subcultural styles. Equally significant is the Japanese obsession (not too strong a word) with perfecting classic utilitarian garments, such as jeans and work wear.”

The exhibition was designed by Charles B. Froom, with assistance from Fred Dennis and Ken Nintzel, and graphic design by Adrian Kitzinger. Additional assistance was provided by C.J. Yeh, FIT assistant professor of Communication Design, and the FIT Media Design Club.

Japan Fashion Now has been generously sponsored by Yagi Tsusho Limited, a global marketing and merchandising company specializing in fashion that has been introducing excellent brands from Europe and the U.S. to the Japanese market for more than 60 years, MONCLER and MACKINTOSH among the most recent.

Book:
A lavishly illustrated book, also called Japan Fashion Now, will be published by Yale University Press, with essays by Valerie Steele (“Is Japan Still the Future?”); Patricia Mears, deputy director of The Museum at FIT (“Fashion Revolution”); Hiroshi Narumi, associate professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design (“Japanese Street Style”); and Dr. Yuniya Kawamura, associate professor of Sociology at FIT (“Japanese Fashion Subcultures”). Proceeds from the book go to the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Events:
The exhibition will be accompanied by a wide range of public programs, including gallery tours and a Lolita tea party, all of which will be part of the museum’s Fashion Culture series. The Museum at FIT will hold its annual Fashion Symposium on November 4-5, 2010, on the subject of Japanese fashion. Internationally recognized scholars will speak on topics such as the significance of cuteness in Japanese culture, the schoolgirl uniform, and the spread of Gothic and Lolita fashions throughout East Asia. For a program of events, call 212 217.4585 or email museuminfo(at)fitnyc(dot)edu.

A Fashion Museum:
The Museum at FIT is the only museum in New York City dedicated solely to the art of fashion. Best known for its innovative and award-winning exhibitions, which have been described by Roberta Smith in The New York Times as “ravishing,” the museum has a collection of more than 50,000 garments and accessories dating from the 18th century to the present. Like other fashion museums, such as the Musée de la Mode, the Mode Museum, and the Museo de la Moda, The Museum at FIT collects, conserves, documents, exhibits, and interprets fashion. The museum’s mission is to advance knowledge of fashion through exhibitions, publications, and public programs. Visit http://www.fitnyc.edu/museum .

The museum is part of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), a college of art and design, business and technology that educates more than 10,000 students annually. FIT is a college of the State University of New York (SUNY) and offers more than 44 majors leading to the AAS, BFA, BS, MA, and MPS degrees. Visit http://www.fitnyc.edu .

The Couture Council is a membership group of fashion enthusiasts that helps support the exhibitions and programs of The Museum at FIT. The Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion is given to a selected designer at a benefit luncheon held every September. For information on the Couture Council, call 212 217.4532 or email Couturecouncil(at)fitnyc(dot)edu.

Museum Hours:
Tuesday-Friday – noon-8 pm
Saturday –10 am-5 pm
Closed Sunday, Monday, and legal holidays

Admission is free and open to the public.

http://www.fitnyc.edu/museum

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