IVO MILAN – Radical Fashion Blog

Tag "Japanese school"

For several years now Rei Kawakubo, in Comme des Garçons art, has exclusively dedicated to clues, atmospheres and evocation her own representation of the ongoing collection. Emancipated of any kind of obligation towards the expectations of the global audience, the Japanese designer delights with her exhibitions that are closer to the art world rather than the sector of belonging.  The runway is not dedicated to garments but to textile provocations, architectonic structures that surround the sacrificed bodies of models lend to carry oversized sculptures, deliberately cumbersome and disproportionate compared to the available space.

Impossible not to ask yourself why or what is the plausible message content in this artistic drift. Maybe a self-granted freedom of expression, against the monotonous limits forced by the reality of the female body, or a subtle provocation versus a star-system hat becomes increasingly uncritical and exhibitionist. Certainly the dialog has not the purpose of selling. The pared garments are indeed extraordinary pieces of contemporary art that belong in museums or wealthy collectors. The runway show is an idea, a suggestion of the inspiring motif of the season which will be found later translated and much wearable in the development in the show-room. For Autumn/Winter 2016-2017 we witness then poetic collage of antique fabrics, floral tapestries that catapult the public in the XVIII century, the Age of Enlightenment, the rematch of reason over ignorance and superstition.

Rei Kawakubo, however, is not nostalgic and well-mannered, the collage is held together by metal snap buttons, by cuts and raw seams, diagonals that fragment the decorative harmony of time, implying elements defined by herself  as Punk, in the most provocative meaning of the term.

Synthetic leather, studs, constant asymmetries  and details that can be observed in the motives sewed on skirts, in the curvatures of the nodal points of the joints, reinforced as if they were textile armatures. And extensions, adjustable connecting rings, a flexibility in disassembling and reassembling, a continuously adjustable area in lengths and a delicate balance between order and disorder. It is not said that we can return to the original reconstruction, that many the alternatives are. Modernity and tradition, they also alternate in the processing, the ancient Japanese knowing collaborates with the most daring experimentations of the multi-layerd polyester cloth with rayon, cupro and cotton panels, in an encounter that observes how the material determinants and imposes the final shape of the piece, whether is a jacket, skirt or coat.

Needless to assume how Rei Kawakubo, in preparing an original and personal temporal syncretism, punk and Enlightenment, thinks of women determined to stay in their own time with the vigor and exuberance of who has a critical and imaginative independency

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More than a clothing brand, Cosmic Wonder is a philosophy of life and a conceptual project conceived by the Japanese artist Yukinori Maeda in 1997.

At the very center,  serving as the common thread, as can be intuited by the name, there is total attention aimed at the processes that govern the terrestrial ecosystem, starting from the most basic aspects, such as light.

From artistic installations to publications and musical editions, to the building of a structure, in 2007, where the diverse applications, according to eco-sustainable criteria, were integrated to host visitors for exhibitions and concerts, with Light Source, COSMIC WONDER also becomes a high quality clothing line.

The fabrics, always with low environmental impact, are the products of an entire productive process certified as organic and eco-sustainable. The items are dyed by hand with herbs, plants and algae: madder, pomegranate, gardenia, mulberry leaves, just to name a few. The same can be said for the printing process, which always uses plant based colors.

But, contrary to what usually happens in lines designed around environmental concepts, Cosmic Wonder also places the utmost attention on the design of each single piece. Cuts, seams and the composition of the prints reflect the cultural background of the Japanese school, rich with asymmetrical shapes and unusual forms.

In the conception of an environmental lifestyle, the artist Yukinori Maeda creates an original synchronicity among the ecological directives and Zen philosophy, where harmony and beauty of the cosmos coexist and supply energy to the resources and balance of the single individual, starting with the sharing of those elementary particles that make up the light, the heat, but also dreams and ideas.


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To show once again how the limits between art and fashion are indefinable within the so-called Japanese school, we report the curious installation the architect Yoichi Yamamoto made, for Issey Miyake’s boutique in Tokyo.

A series of blue chairs, where the colourful hats by Akio Hirata, the most important Japanese hat designer, are hung and displayed.

The position of the hats hides an artificial optical effect, that is obtained through a clever combination of three-dimensional elements, the chair backs, and two-dimensional elements, the legs of the playful blue chairs.

When you look at the shop-window from a certain point of view, the apparent plainness of the installation is able to deceive the ingenuous observers. Only from a different point of view, the complicated and surprising optical illusion is revealed.

Another evidence of the essential value that is added by different skills is clear when a shop-window is not merely considered as a transient display of items to be sold, but also as a special place where abstract compositions can be shown and shared with a moving audience.

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Despite having worked with Junya Watanabe and Rei Kawakubo for nearly a decade, Abe Chitose, the young designer of the Sacai brand, was able to distance himself from his illustrious masters and develop an original and personal interpretation of fashion and clothing.

Whilst the so-called Japanese school is more inclined to look at the artistic potential of clothing, Chitose brings it back to its original function of items that must adapt and be compatible with the various needs of everyday life. This absolutely concrete and practical dimension underlines the spaces and times of our social life and tries to find a solution for different circumstances. For this purpose, Chitose employs the classic formal schemes of ordinary, mainly Western clothing, but does not renounce the process of dividing it up and putting it back together, by applying the poetic delicacy that he acquired in his work environment.

In this original mixture of East and West, sheath dresses can be found, along with trench coats, blazers and also an explicit tribute to Chanel, that at the same time is a celebration of an eternal feminine, of an original elegance.

Without being trapped by boring and regular monotony, Sacai breaks the rhythm by introducing carefully chosen devices that systematically betray what our eyes were expecting: rough juxtapositions of fabrics; simple points of junctions between different prints and materials; unexpected gatherings or layers that are camouflaged by the apparent predictability of the forms.

In the delicate balance between innovation and repetition, what prevails is an impeccable, refined and essential female silhouette.

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Yohji Yamamoto S/S 2011

The soundtrack of Yohji’s fashion show is a clear evidence of the inspiration for the current season. Jimi Hendrix’s rock, 40 years after his premature death, sets up the rhythm of the show, synchronizing the beats of the sound with the colours and lines on the catwalk.

The rocker woman created by Yamamoto, however, hasn’t got anything to do with the shabby look that was typical of young sub-cultures of the seventies. Far from any predictable stereotypes and banal suggestions, the collection proposes items that conform to the very high creative standards of the Japanese designer: excellent tailoring, asymmetrical cuts, refined and complex fabrics.

Such an artistic verve can even propose an inflatable skirt made of transparent vinyl, with buttons and pleats that create a plisse effect. Even if every item of clothing is presented with heavy boots or light sandals, it is without the intention to underline urban environments and moods, but instead to set clothes in everyday life that would otherwise belong to the exclusive world of haute couture.

Always unpredictable, Yamamoto is one of the most significant forerunners of the so called Japanese school, and is currently being displayed at the prestigious Victoria & Albert Museum, in London. An occasion to understand and follow the development and main topics of the aesthetic vision of a revolutionary fashion genius, whose creations are considered to be real works of art that must be displayed and made public, at least for as long as an exhibition lasts.

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