Originally posted April 16, 2006:
Many think of 80s style as being ultimately romantic, with Princess Diana's wedding gown the icon of the era. In this context, the most surprising, refreshing, and least romantic clothing came from JAPANESE designers, with asymmetry, unusual colors, origami-like folds, and abstract shapes giving the wearer a look bordering on kinetic modern sculpture.
The Japantheon included Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto, Matsuda and Kenzo.
Issey Miyake in the late 80s
Update July 31, 2009:
Checking in with the Japanese designers, I was pleased to see Issey Miyake's legacy supported by the fabric innovations, layering and volumes employed by Dai Fujiwara at Miyake.
I found Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons thought-provoking, and a little disturbing, with diaphanous cocooning and military greens. I do think she made some pretty and interestingly-cut coats.
Yamamoto is still in the business of creating asymmetrical clothing in his dark palate:
If Japanese designers influenced fashion in the 70s and 80s, and if that influence can now be seen in many designers' work, then a slight trade balancing might be seen in the ebullient work of Yamamoto's daughter, Limi Feu. There's her father's (non) color palate, the volume and the androgyny, but there is also a new feeling of fun in playing with historical elements from around the world.