Thursday, July 30, 2009

80s fashion redux, part 4: The Japantheon

At first it may seem as if Japanese designers have receded somewhat, with Kenzo and Miyake retiring in 1999 (although their houses remain, under new designers) and Matsudo dying in 2008. The startling modernity of the Japantheon of designers is no longer so surprising, and therein lies its lasting influence: Large volumes, layering, asymmetry, artful folds (how many times have you heard "origami" in a description of modern clothing?), androgyny, and interesting and innovative fabrics now seem to be part of the global fashion vocabulary at least in part due to the impact of these designers.

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

Matsuda, mid 80s

Yamamoto, mid 80s

Kawakubo in the late 80s or early 90s

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.


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denisebrain said...

I am sorry, only comments related to the blog.

私は、ブログに関連のコメントだけを申し訳なく思っている。 said...

Great job, Maggie! I love the Japanese designers. That shot of the Miyake is spectacular. Loved seeing Matsuda. He's one of my favorite of the Japanese designers. And Yamamoto.

denisebrain said...

Thank you Joan. I know I would consider myself blessed to find anything designed by Miyake. His work has always left me spellbound.