Across Japan at the Modemuseum Hasselt
The exhibition at the Belgian fashion museum features work created by Japanese avant-garde designers in the last 35 years
Where does the minimalist, loose and at times amorphous aesthetic of designers such as Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo come from? That’s the focus of Across Japan, an exhibition that explores the last 35 years of the country’s fashion, currently on display at the Modemuseum Hasselt in Belgium.
Across Japan carves out an answer via its five themes, analysing the global impact of the country’s trendsetters. The first, Japonism, shows the influence of the nation’s fashion on American and European fashion throughout the centuries: from the dressing gowns that began being exported after Japan opened up to international trade in 1850 to the influence of the kimonos on the straight cut of the 1920s flapper dresses.
The second, Wabi-sabi, is in part responsible for the look of Yamamoto and Kawakubo: the historical concept of imperfect beauty gave birth to shabby, asymmetrical silhouettes. That theme is closely related to the third, Ma, the concept behind the oversized silhouettes of Japanese aesthetics —think of a kimono, for example, and its impact on brands like Delpozo and Maison Margiela.
Gi-jutsu, the Japanese word for technique, explores the technical ingenuity behind innovative garments, from tie-dying to printing to Miyake-style origami. The fifth theme, Kawaii, explores all things cute and their influence on couture worldwide.
Nihon’s fashion is indeed a form soft power for the nation, and the exhibition seamlessly includes the works of designers and fashion houses such as Balenciaga, Thom Browne, Ann Demeulemeester, Givenchy and Raf Simons to underline just how much Japanese DNA is running through European-made garments.
Across Japan is on display at the Modemuseum Hasselt until September 3, 2017