Future Beauty, at the Barbican in London, is the first exhibition in Europe to comprehensively explore avant-garde Japanese fashion, from the early 1980s to the present. Japanese designers have had a huge impact on world fashion. Visionaries such as Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto redefined the basis of fashion. A true challenge to the Western concepts of beauty to transform their garments into art.
Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion explores the work of legendary Japanese fashion designers, searching for the correlation to Japanese art, culture and costume history. Curated by Akiko Fukai, Director of the Kyoto Costume Institute, and designed by architect Sou Fujimoto, the show brings together over 100 garments from the last three decades. I was able to visit the Future Beauty exhibit at the Barbican during my recent visit to London and was completely bowled over by the magnificence of the show.
Spread over two floors, the lower floor mostly explores the work of Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo (Commes des Garçons) and Yohji Yamamota. Arranged in four sections: In Praise of Shadows; Flatness; Tradition and Innovation and Cool Japan. Each area concentrates on a different characteristic that is present in the designers’ work.
Seeing some of these garments that I have lusted over in books and magazines was completely awe-inspiring and breathtaking. None are behind glass and the fabrics seem to shimmer and shiver with contained life. I spent the entire time with goose bumps and heart palpitations. The exhibition is magnificent, one of the best that I have ever had the pleasure to see. Comprehensive, structured, informative, this could almost be termed a retrospective of the indelible mark that contemporary Japanese designers have made upon the world of fashion. Future Beauty will be open to the public until the 6th of February 2011, so if you happen to be in London, don’t hesitate for a moment to visit this foray into a deconstructed and magical world.
All Future Beauty photos by Lyndon Douglas.