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The Cutting Edge: Fashion From Japan

Breaking free of traditional confines, the Japanese have always been leaders in fashion; since the advent of the deconstructed dress. The Cutting Edge, Fashion from Japan brings and inspires readers with the beginnings and forefront of Japanese fashion and innovation.

Title: The Cutting Edge: Fashion From Japan
Publisher: Powerhouse Publishing
Editors: Louis Mitchell

In the 1980s, Japanese fashion invaded the western world swiftly; like the slice of a samurai’s sharp, edged sword. Japanese fashion designers Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto paraded their garments on the catwalk shows of Paris in the April of 1981, with pale, skinny models in dark oversized deconstructed dresses, thus generating an intense buzz and sensation of Japanese fashion. The influence spread wide and soon, it was visible in the cut of garments created by the best of Parisian couturiers, as well as in other fields such as architecture, painting and decorative arts. In stark anithesis to the current fashion of the west, which were slinky polished evening dresses in vogue at that time, Japanese fashion was intentionally flawed and were asymmetric drapering and exaggerated proportions with a monochrome palette.

“Japanese fashion in the eighties provided a new way of looking at fabric, texture, cut and image. It questioned the artifice of tailoring and couture, literally deconstructing garments.” – Art critic Deyan Sudjic

In different ways, three Japanese designers commonly known as the ‘Big three’ Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto are part of a ‘cultural climate’ that dervies inspiration from architecture, art and design.For example, Miyake continues to be a key innovator with one of his creations, A-POC, a long piece of fabric not needing any sewing, but simply cut by the wearer without wasting any fabric and worn.

Since the advent of pioneering designers such as Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miake, a new generation of cutting edge designers have been discovered, such as young designer Hiroaki Ohya, who created a amazing series of 21 ‘books’ that could actually fold into abstract garments. A technical feat, these books could fold into a gorgeous dress, unique skirt with special folds, or a ruffled neckpiece in alignment with the Japanese tradition of origami.

Another experimental designer of worthy mention is Aya Tsukioka, with a transformable theme of ‘Shelter’. A wearer dons an apron and is able to almost instantly ‘transform’ themselves into a vending machine, whenever and wherever they please, thus camouflaging themsleves in modern living, being able to blend in with the background and seek refuge momentarily in everyday life.

Published by Powerhouse Publishing in association with The Kyoto Costume Institute in Japan, this book challenges western notions of fashion and aesthetics. The Cutting Edge, Fashion from Japan profiles 19 innovative designers including pioneers Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto. A new breed of highly innovative designers have since spawned then, with Junya Watanabe and Jun Takashi’s works profiled and featured as well. With detailed essays by curator Louise Mitchell, Akiko Fukai of the Kyoto Costume Institute and Bonnie English, senior lecturer on modernism and postmodernism, the book takes a detailed look on subjects ranging from the rise and advent of Japanese fashion, a new fashion aesthetic and Japanese fashion as art. Brilliant visuals of the designer’s garments coupled with images of the catwalk shows pepper and compliment the essays.

Capturing the essence and spirit of Japanese tradition and creativity, this book is a ground-breaking achievement in the history of avant-garde Japanese fashion; it explores successfully the themes of post-modernism and the relationship between fashion and art.

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