Japanese Fashion & Film in Seattle

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  • Wednesday, 02 October 2013 11:15
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Japanese Fashion & Film in Seattle ISSEY MIYAKE ( Naoki Takizawa) + Aya Takano/Kaikai Kiki Autumn/Winter 2004 Collection Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute,Gift of ISSEY MIYAKE INC.

Japanese Fashion, Film and Flora Flourish in Seattle

By Kimo Friese

SUMMER in Seattle, Washington is in full swing having kicked off with summer solstice events and continuing throughout the summer as long as the beautiful weather holds. Folk, rock and electronic musical events, outdoor film screenings, Shakespeare-in-the-park, and top attractions like Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, Seattle Center (location of the world famous Space Needle) as well as various open-air artistic and cultural events in the city’s neighborhoods will thrive during the long summer days... and well into the nights.


This summer Seattle pays homage to Japanese culture and fashion with the recently opened exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) entitled Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion. This exhibit is not to be missed, with over 100 costumes by internationally celebrated designers including Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto as well as younger designers like Jun Takahashi, Kumiko Uehara and Kazuaki Takashima who have been influenced by and are embracing the Cool Japan movement and the culture of Tokyo street life.

“The exhibition shows how Japanese fashion design launched itself on the world stage in the 1980s,” notes Catharina Manchanda, SAM’s Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art.

Curated by the eminent Japanese fashion historian Akiko Fukai, director and chief curator of the Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI), the exhibition explores the distinctive sensibility of Japanese design and its sense of beauty as embodied in clothing. Bringing together over 100 garments from the last three decades – some never seen before in the United States, the exhibition also includes films of notable catwalk shows and documentaries.

The exhibition is structured in a combination of thematic and monographic sections beginning with In Praise of Shadows, which explores the Japanese designers’ interests in materials, textures and forms, and consciousness of light and shade. Most of the designs in this section are in black and white and revisit the moment when these minimal aesthetic proposals were first introduced to European audiences in the early 1980s. The costumes in this section include designs by Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, Shinichiro Arakawa and Hiroaki Ohya.

The second section is Flatness, which explores the simple geometries and interplay of flatness and volume in the work of Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo. This section includes a series of specially commissioned and striking photographs by Japanese artist and photographer Naoya Hatakeyama.

In the next section, the relationship between Tradition and Innovation is considered – from the radical reinvention of traditional Japanese garments and techniques, such as kimono and origami, to the technological advances in textile fabrication and treatment. It includes a series of paper garments by OhYa and Mintdesigns; Watanabe’s seminal autumn/winter 2000 collection Techno Couture; examples of Kawakubo’s deconstructionist work; and modern takes on traditional Japanese techniques and garments by Yamamoto, Kenzo and Matohu.

The final section focuses on the phenomenon of Cool Japan. Featuring works by Tao Kurihara, Jun Takahashi for Undercover and Naoki Takizawa, among others. Cool Japan examines the symbiotic relationship between street style, popular culture and high fashion.

The exhibition also includes monographic presentations on each of the principle designers in the show, featuring a range of archive and recent works by Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons), Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Junya Watanabe and Jun Takahashi (Undercover). This exhibition will be on view through September 8, 2013.


August brings a tribute to Japanese cinema at the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood with three double features paying homage to Shintoho Studios dubbed Shintoho Schlock: Girls, Guns & Ghosts.

As one of six studios active during the post-war Golden Age of Japanese cinema, Shintoho hosted internationally known Japanese directors including Akira Kurosawa (Stray Dog), Kenji Mizoguchi (Life of Oharu) and Mikio Naruse, among others. Yet Shintoho would begin to release low-budget genre pictures that, though popular with fans, would often be condemned as cheap B-grade films touting teens in fast cars and bikinis, or for being vampire and werewolf renditions.

Three double features from the Shintoho archives will be screened August 2-9, including Sold Into Prostitution, Tainted Love Rises from the Dead and Busting Out of Bars.


Located in the Washington Park Arboretum, the Seattle Japanese Garden is 3.5-acre (14,000 sq. meter) formal Japanese garden designed and constructed under the supervision of world-renowned Japanese garden designer Juki Iida in 1960. Free guided tours are offered Monday to Saturday throughout the summer months. tj

The complete article is available in Issue #272. Click here to order from Amazon



Written By:

Kimo Friese

Tokyo Journal's Underground Culture Editor, Kimo Friese, was born in Hawaii, raised in Southern California, and has lived in various European countries. In 2012 he relocated from the Los Angeles area to Seattle, Washington, where he keeps his finger on the pulse of underground culture. Holding a Master's degree in Germanic Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics from UCLA, Kimo speaks English, German, Dutch/Afrikaans, Russian, and French. He is experienced in creative writing, photography and film production. From the tip of his toes to his shirt collar, his body is a human tapestry of tattoo art and Kimo has rocked the Germanic underground world as vocalist and percussionist for the music group Autonome Radicalism Wrax.


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