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Past Exhibitions


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Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion

Jun 27 – Sep 8 2013

Seattle Art Museum

Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries

The tremendous innovation of Japanese fashion designers who have revolutionized the way we think of fashion today will be shown for the first time in Seattle at SAM. The leading Japanese designers who initially gained recognition in the West were Kenzo Takada and Issey Miyake in the 1970s, but it is in the 1980s that Japanese designers emerged with an entirely new aesthetic. In the summer of 1983, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto launched a stark new aesthetic at the Paris runway shows. Based on monochrome black and white, they presented asymmetric and at times artfully perforated designs, which loosely skimmed the female silhouette. Recognized as a radical counterproposal to Western notions of the fitted gown, their designs gained instant notoriety.

This was the beginning of what is now three decades of innovative design that has in turn influenced and reshaped our Western aesthetics of dress. Curated by Akiko Fukai, director of the Kyoto Costume Institute, the exhibition showcases the early emphasis on light and shadow, and the increasingly diverse ultramodern designs that range from the deconstruction and reinvention of Western couture models to wildly revolutionary designs that draw from contemporary street fashion.

Nearly 100 gowns will be featured, ranging from the classic and elegant to outrageous, by celebrated designers such as Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Kenzo Takada, Junya Watanabe, Jun Takahashi and others, videos of runway shows, artist photographs, magazines and ephemera designed by renowned international artists like Gilbert and George and Cindy Sherman. This exhibition promises to be a fascinating experience and rare opportunity to view these unique creations firsthand.

–Catharina Manchanda, Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art

Comme des Garçons, Spring/Summer 1997, Rei Kawakubo (Japanese, born 1942), Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute. Photo by Takashi Hatakeyama.