Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ever Changing - Japan Fashion Now

This coordinate is on display at
Japan Fashion Now.
Last Monday I had the opportunity to take a guided tour, lead by the curator Valerie Steele, of Japan Fashion Now, an exhibit displaying selections of prominent Japanese fashion designers and subculture styles that are distinctly found on the streets of Tokyo.

While it was my third time at the exhibit, it was a great experience learning the vision Steele had in mind for viewers. I was especially interested in what she could comment regarding Lolita fashion.

Japan Fashion Now is divided into two sections: the first covering the Japanese fashion industry origins from 1970s to 21st century, and the rest of the exhibit is covering what fashion in Japan is like today. Steele presents Japan's fashion origins coming from the Dark Ages, with classic black clothes from Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and Rei Kawakubo from Commes des Garcons, to a revolution of color and experimentation.

My experience, thought, was not what I expected since visiting the exhibit I was more intrigued by the other designers, particularly Jun Takahashi and his UNDERCOVER with his use of crepe and shapes. While the other visitors were more interested by the small display of Lolita fashion and its doll-like aesthetics, but Steele had already mentioned characteristics I've heard before.

Inspired by Victorian and Rococo clothing. To create a doll-like appearance. An outlet for Japanese women to reject the uniformity and traditions of society by dressing for themselves.

Say what you will, but it's difficult to define Lolita fashion. True, Lolita fashion is inspired by Victorian and Rococo periods, but it is also inspired by archetypal feminine qualities. It is also an expressive, individualized fashion since Lolitas look similar, but never exactly same.

Which essentially what Japan Fashion Now is attempting to express - to take inspiration and make it your own. In terms of expressing Lolita fashion to others, Steele presents samples of the style that is neither Nabakov nor just a babydoll dress with a petticoat, but just exposing visitors to a style of fashion they've never seen before.

Overall I had a good experience, and was impressed by the interior design Steele chose. If you notice the wall-sized photo collages they actually depict various, notable fashion districts like Otomoesando, Ginza, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Odaiba, and Akihabara - which corresponds to each section display. Cosplay to Akihabara, Harajuku, Shinjuku, and Odaiba to school uniforms, Lolita, hime-kei, morigirl, etc.

I still find it strange how enamored people are by Lolita fashion, but perhaps it's because I've been so immersed in the subculture that I've forgotten what it's like on the outside looking in.

If you are a Lolita and in the city, I recommend stopping by "Japan Fashion Now" before April 2nd when it closes.

Not to see your Lolita wardrobe on display, but to be exposed to other designers like Commes des Garcon, Issey Miyake and Jun Takahashi (and see a Louis Vuitton/Murakami collaboration bag in person!).

If you are curious why you see girls and boys dressing like they are going to a Halloween costume party, go to FIT and learn that they just felt like dressing up for the day.

Japan Fashion Now
Closes April 2nd
Museum at FIT
227 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001
(212) 217-4558

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