Thursday, November 6, 2014

Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion at QAGOMA

My love of Japan and especially Japanese fashion is well documented on this blog, but just how well known it was outside the realm of my little internet bubble I wasn't really sure. So when the Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art #QAGOMA contacted me to invite me to the their exhibition celebrating 30 years of Japanese fashion as a guest of the gallery because they were aware of my love for Japan and Japanese fashion I was in total shock. This was the most perfect and exciting invitation to ever grace my inbox in over eight years of blogging. Being recognised as someone who has obsessively followed, blogged and documented Japanese fashion for all these years was an amazing feeling. The exhibition, Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion, opened to the media on October 31st and I was there for both the media preview and opening night celebrations. Walking through the exhibition during the media preview I got so overwhelmed by everything that I saw and I started to tear up, I just couldn't believe I was seeing all these wonderful pieces in person. The exhibition covers four distinct themes that embody Japanese fashion - 'In praise of shadows', 'Flatness', 'Tradition and Innovation' and 'Cool Japan'.

'In praise of shadows'
Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons - Autumn/Winter 2009-10

This first section explores the use of black, texture and light. When the names we take for granted now such as Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto first debuted in Paris in the early 1980s they caused such a stir within the fashion world the phenomenon was sensationalised as 'Japan Shock'. Essentially the designs rejected the body conscious silhouette of the time creating formless, shapeless and often colourless pieces that aimed to conceal rather than expose the body. This same emphasis on black and deconstructured shapes continues to inspire and influence the new generation of designers in Japan.

Yohji Yamamoto - Spring/Summer 1998-99 (white) | Yohji Yamamoto - Spring/Summer 2003 (first black dress)

Comme des Garçons (Rei Kawakubo) - Autumn/Winter 2012-13

Flatness looks at the pieces inspired by the traditional dress of Japan, the kimono and also origami and Japanese art and graphic design. An interesting and uniquely Japanese concept behind some of the pieces is that of  'ma' which is formed by the empty space when wearing a kimono.

 Ohya (Hiroaki Ohya) - Spring/Summer 2000

'Tradition and Innovation'
Japanese designers are known for their groundbreaking construction techniques. Designers such as Issey Miyake collaborated closely with textile designers to develop his own unique fabrics. This section of the exhibition explores the relationships between the traditional and innovative and the ways Japanese designers continue to play with convention by deconstructing both traditional Japanese dress and western clothing.

 Yohji Yamamoto - Spring/Summer 1995

Comme des Garçons (Rei Kawakubo) - Spring/Summer 2007

Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons - Autumn/Winter 2000-01

Koji Tatsuno - Autumn/Winter 1993-94

Noritaka Tatehana as worn by Lady Gaga

'Cool Japan'
Cool Japan explores the vibrant youth subcultures that have become synonymous with the streets of Harajuku. From Gothic Lolita to the Decora style of the mid-late 1990's (which is currently having a resurgence in popularity in Harajuku itself thanks to Tumblr) this section was by far one of my favourites. Harajuku trends work at a frantic pace and there is always something new coming from the scene. Unfortunately in Harajuku some of the more well known subcultural phenomenons such as the goth loli style are all but dead as compared to ten or even five years ago you just don't see them as often. That being said decora is definitely on the way back as I noticed on my last visit so nothing ever completely dies, no matter how much my friends who lived through it the first time wish it could. One of my closest friends in Japan is actually in the very first FRUiTS book in her full 1990s decora style, she wasn't even aware it was in a book until she saw it on a trip to the USA and she was so embarrassed because even at that stage it was a good six years later and her style had evolved (she was one of the Spank! girls) so decora was well and truly over by then (2006 or so). Most people have an idea of Harajuku that is very heavily influenced by that book not realising that those photos are now at least fourteen years old and those people are now mothers, fathers and maybe even salarymen! Harajuku is of course still a vibrant place but a lot of the tribes are dwindling - this is a topic my friends who are the designers, street style stars and shop owners that make Harajuku what it is and I always end up discussing until the wee hours of the morning when I'm over there. Many blame it on the sudden influx of western chain stores such as H&M and Forever 21 which is interesting as the very same thing is now happening here with casualties in Australian independent retail already occurring (RIP Alice Euphemia). Anyway I could rant all day about the changing face of Harajuku fashion, it's obviously my passion (lol)

 Baby The Stars Shine Bright

 Comme des Garçons

 Ne Net - Autumn/Winter 2009-10

Oh how I love Ne Net! This collection is from around their peak period design wise, I find a lot of their recent collections far more watered down and commercial but I will never stop loving them. Their runway show back in 2007 was one of my first ever fashion shows and I will never ever forget how amazing it was.

'Six Key Designers'
 Issey Miyake

 Jun Takahashi Undercover - Autumn/Winter 2000-01

 Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons - Autumn/Winter 2004-05

 Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons - Spring/Summer 2003

Comme des Garçons (Rei Kawakubo)

Not pictured in the 'Six Key Designers' section are Yohji Yamamoto and Hokuto Katsui and Nao Yagi for mintdesigns.

Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion
1 Oct 2014 - 15 Feb 2015
QAGOMA Brisbane

There is a great program of events such as the Future Beauty Uplate series featuring talks, live music, Japanese food and bars. Also Future Fashion Sundays featuring talks, workshops, special events and much more. Check out the full program to plan your trip!

#QAGOMA had arranged for some very fabulous Harajuku girls to be at both the media preview and opening night celebrations. Super kawaii!

What I wore to the media preview. I was having such a difficult time trying to find something amazing to wear for both the media preview and opening night. I really wanted something that would stand out from the crowd and that also had a tie in with Japan. So when I was talking to the lovely Sam from Symantha Rose jewellery about my conundrum and she offered up two amazing pieces from her own personal wardrobe for me to borrow I couldn't say no. Especially when one of them was by Berlin label Starstyling the designers of which I met last year in Tokyo at my friends shop Wut Berlin which I blogged all about here. Too perfect!

Outfit details
Dress Starstyling 
Pink sunglasses Craig and Karl for Le Specs
Pink pom pom earrings DIY
Street Fashion Kids necklace Lactose Intoler-Art
Flower bangle House of Cards
Circle bag Chip Chop! for Sportsgirl
Metallic pink sandals ASOS

Another bag that can fit my super bulky dslr #score!

Flower bangle House of Cards
Circle bag Chip Chop! for Sportsgirl
Rings from left to right | Red acrylic ring MOMA NYC | Pink gift bow ring Tokyo's Tokyo at Omohara Tokyu Plaza | Pink resin crown ring Keep Resin

This necklace means so much to me and I just had to wear it to this event. Brandon from Lactose Intoler-Art and I have been friends for a very long time, drawn together by our love of Japanese fashion and street style back on MySpace of all places. I've been a long time supporter of his work and seeing him follow his dreams, currently living in Tokyo and creating pieces that are being worn by both of our street style star idols is incredible. His illustrations have now walked the catwalk at Seoul fashion week in a collaboration with Singapore based label Revasseur and he just recently launched his own collection of street style inspired sports wear which was featured on I love you Brandon!

Street Fashion Kids necklace Lactose Intoler-Art

Metallic pink sandals ASOS

Super kawaii! Thank you so much to the team at QAGOMA for having me up for this wonderful exhibition. I am beyond thankful and left feeling well and truly inspired. Thank you x


  1. Wow… so many beautiful pieces! Love your outfit. Looks comfy but also very Japanese!

  2. Oh gosh! The exhibition looks SO amazing! I'm so glad that they invited you, I couldn't think of any other blogger in Australia more fitte for this event! Love what you wore, that dress is super fantastic!

  3. so much fashion! such style! amazing!

  4. Excellent Exhibit. I believe I saw a similar exhibit at the Seattle Art Musuem July of 2014. They had the flower rain jacket as well as several pieces from Watanabe. I wasn't allowed to take photos though, so its refreshing to see it somewhere else in the world.

  5. Hayley! Awesome post! Thank you SO much for continuously supporting me and my work! :) Definitely have a range of different things going now, so keep checking back! Necklaces, some sportswear/oversized print items and leggings, and very soon one off Japanese style "remake" pieces, as well as hand panted platform buffalo shoes! :) Thank you ALWAYS!

  6. I really wanted to go to that exhibition but unfortunately QLD was a bit far for me. It looks like it would've been amazing to see all of those CDG and Yohji pieces! Awesome post. :)


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