Future Is Now: Asian Fashion in London

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Published October 18, 2010

There has been a lot of press recently about the wave of young Asian-American designers rising to prominence in the fashion industry. But in an industry where relevance changes season-by-season, let’s not forget the hugely influential contributions made by Japanese fashion designers over the past quarter-century. At a time when the fashion world was still dominated by older European couture houses, the innovative, art-influenced approach of Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake represented a radical transformation of haute style.

Now these designers are the subject of Future Beauty, a major retrospective at London’s prestigious Barbican Centre. Kate Bush, Head of Art Galleries for the Barbican, says, “The great Japanese designers changed fashion forever in the 1980s. The tight silhouettes of Western couture were jettisoned for new, fluid shapes. Out went the magnificent ornament and extravagant techniques of the post-war tradition and in came a stark, monochrome palette and an entirely new decorative language—holes, rips, frays and tears—emerging from the stuff of fabric itself.” Put on your finest distressed gown or deconstructed jacket and check out the exhibition until February 2011.

ABOVE: LOOK BY JUNYA WATANABE. THE BARBICAN IS LOCATED AT SILK CENTRE, LONDON.