1 Teachers Resource Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion

Future Beauty: 30 Years
of Japanese Fashion
Teachers Resource
Image credit: Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons, Spring/Summer 2007. Photograph ©Anthea Simms
Introduction to the exhibition
Using this resource
Japanese fashion today
Exhibition layout
Themes and designers in focus Curriculum links
Further reading
Planning your visit Credits Page
5 – 11
5 – 11
Introduction to Using this
the exhibition resource
Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion is
the first exhibition in Europe to comprehensively
survey avant-garde Japanese fashion, from
the early 1980s to now. The show explores the
distinctive sensibility of Japanese design and its
sense of beauty embodied in clothing.
Innovators such as Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo
and Yohji Yamamoto redefined the very basis
of fashion, challenging established Western
notions of beauty, and turned fashion very firmly
into art. Junya Watanabe also features in the
exhibition, together with Jun Takahashi and a
new generation of radical designers including
Tao Kurihara, Matohu and Mintdesigns.
Curated by the eminent Japanese fashion
historian Akiko Fukai, Director and Chief Curator
of the Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI), the exhibition
brings together over 100 garments from the last
three decades, many rarely lent by KCI, some
never seen before in the UK, as well as, films of
notable catwalk shows and documentaries.
The resource contains:
• Information about ‘Japanese fashion today’
and the ‘Exhibition layout’.
• Practical and discussion based activities and
curriculum links in ‘Themes and designers in
focus’ section. Many of these can be adapted
to the level of your students and used by
primary, secondary and further education
students alike.
Activities can be explored in preparation for
your visit, during your visit and beyond the
exhibition in the classroom.
Image credit : Rei Kawakubo, Autumn/Winter 1983 – 84. Photograph courtesy the Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute
The Lower Level of the gallery is arranged into
four sections that include: In Praise of Shadows,
Flatness, Tradition and Innovation and Cool
Japan. The Upper Level is dedicated to focused
displays on each of the principle designers,
as well as a number of emerging designers.
Using the exhibition as a stimulus, this resource
is intended as inspiration and guidance for
primary and secondary school teachers.
Japanese Fashion Today
following in the footsteps of Miyake, Kawakubo
and Yamamoto further extending the unique
phenomenon of Japanese design. These
include: Junya Watanabe, who debuted his own
collection in 1992; Jun Takahashi of Undercover,
who debuted in Paris in 2002 and Dai Fujiwara
currently Creative Director of the Issey Miyake
Design Studio.
Many works by these Japanese designers
reference Japanese aesthetic principles.
To know these principles is to start to more fully
understand the garments of these Japanese
designers. Some of these principles are
as follows:
The work of all the exhibited Japanese fashion
designers is disparate and resists being grouped
together, however, what does draw them together
is a desire to push boundaries.
• Wabi-sabi is the beauty of things modest and
• Wabi and sabi – wabi, is an aesthetic that has
roots in the long established tea ceremony from
16th century: wabi, meaning simplicity, without
decoration or luxury; sabi, meaning old and
• Ma - the space or void between things/objects
that possesses incalculable energy.
• Origami –Japanese art of paper folding: ori
meaning folding; gami meaning paper.
Some characteristics of Japanese fashion can
also be linked to Western influences. The punk
approach of Vivienne Westwood in the 1970/80s
was also exemplified by slashes, rips and frayed
clothing akin to wabi-sabi and used black as an
expression of social protest.
Today a new generation of designers are
Image credit : Junya Watanabe/Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons, Autumn/Winter 2000–01. Photograph courtesy the Kyoto Costume Institute
The exhibition charts fashion by Japanese
designers from the 1980s to the present. The
Paris fashion debuts of Rei Kawakubo and Yohji
Yamamoto in the early 1980s and the designs
of the already internationally established Issey
Miyake introduced revolutionary conceptual
form and the language of deconstruction thereby
changing fashion across the world forever.
Exhibition Layout
The Lower Level of the gallery is arranged
into four sections with focus on the different
characteristics that pervade the work of the
featured designers:
Flatness: explores simple geometries and
interplay of flatness and volume in the work
of Miyake and Kawakubo. This section includes
a series of photographs by Naoya Hatakeyama,
specially commissioned for the collection
of the KCI.
Tradition and Innovation: considers the radical
reinventions of traditional Japanese garments
and techniques, such as the kimono and
origami, as well as to the use of technologically
advanced textiles.
Cool Japan: focuses on the symbiotic
relationship between street style, popular
culture and high fashion.
The Upper Level is dedicated to focused
displays on each of the principal designers in
the show featuring a range of recent works
from Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto and
Issey Miyake. Junya Watanabe, Jun Takahashi
and Tao Kurihara are also featured, as well as
Mintdesigns and emerging designers: Akira
Naka, Anrealage, Né-Net, Sacai, Somarta,
Mikio Sakabe and Taro Horiuchi.
Image credit: Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion, Barbican Art Gallery, 15 October 2010 – 6 February 2011. Photo Lyndon Douglas
In Praise of Shadows: reveals the interest in a
monochromatic palette, nuanced textures and
forms and the power of black. It features pieces
by Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto from their
revered collections of the early eighties to their
work from recent seasons, alongside designs by
Junya Watanabe, Jun Takahashi and Matohu.
Themes and designers in focus
In Praise of Shadows
Kawakubo and Yamamoto often used as many
as four different types of white or black fabric/
yarns in one garment to accentuate light and
shade, depth and texture. An example of such
an approach is clearly seen in Yamamoto’s 1983
Spring/Summer collection, which presented
white, multi-layered garments comprising
carefully cut holes of different motif patterns
and which allowed the viewer to perceive the
beauty of the shadows delicately cast upon
the wearer’s skin.
• What is your opinion of monochromatic
garments? List and analyse the different
emotions and opinions you have about the
black and white garments seen in the exhibition.
• Do you associate a specific gender, age, ethnic
• Yohji Yamamoto said: ‘If one has only one
piece of clothing in life, it becomes patched
together, exposed to sun and rain, frayed
from the course of daily life. I wanted to create
clothing with the same kind of unconscious
beauty and natural appeal’.
Discuss favourite garments that you own; how
long you have had them and are there any
telltale patches, tears or rips that add to your
memory and love of these items. Do you think
they have beauty and natural appeal?
Investigating Shades of Black – Paper
• Create a ‘shade palette’ to reflect a range
of black hues using only black ink & water
on paper.
• This exercise could also be done using a soft
pencil (4B+); experiment with applying different
pressure to the paper to create darker/lighter
Asymmetrical Inkblot Designs
• Create a series of symmetrical inkblots on
paper by daubing black ink and water on one
half of a folded sheet of paper that is opened
flat, then press closed against the folded
crease to create a mirror image.
• Once dried, cut in half and pair with a
different half to create an asymmetric form.
• Paste onto a larger sheet of paper and add
head/arms/legs/feet to create a range of
asymmetrical garments.
• Using an old skirt/trousers, slash and cut
the garment into many different sections,
taking care to keep the skirt/trousers attached
at the waistband.
• Collect a range of cut/torn strips of different
fabrics and attach these to the waistband and
to the cut pieces of the garment to add volume
and length.
• Dye the garment black once it is completed.
Alternatively, collect only white/natural fabrics/
garments to work with.
Curriculum Links to Art & Design
K1 & 2
Unit 1B Investigating materials
Unit 1C What is sculpture?
Unit 3A Portraying relationships
Unit 3B Investigating pattern
Unit 3C Can we change places?
Unit 5A Objects and meanings
Unit 6B What a performance
Unit 9gen: Visiting a museum, gallery or site
KS 3
Unit 8C Shared view
Unit 9B Change your style
Unit 9C Personal places, public spaces
KS3 Unit 10gen: Visiting a museum, gallery or site
Image credit: Yohji Yamamoto, Spring/Summer 1983. Photograph courtesy the Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute
In the 1980s much of Western fashion focused on
a sculpted, tight-fitting silhouette and the use of
bright colours. In contrast, Japanese designers
differed in the extreme: they presented collections
in an almost exclusively monochrome palette and
offered ripped, ragged, frayed, and unravelled
garments decorated with holes and tears
and made of loose fitting sections. In Western
traditions, these characteristics had negative
connotations and were derisorily dubbed
the ‘beggar look’ by some critics at the time.
However, such decorative and material elements
were intentional and subsumed two of the key
aesthetic principles central to Japanese culture:
wabi and sabi.
group, faith or activity with clothes that are
black and/or white? List and discuss.
In Praise of the Skirt/Trousers
Androgynous Sculpture
• Some clothing in Flatness might be seen as
unisex in look.
• Gather together a wide variety of clothes or
collect images of a wide variety of clothes these could be a range of children and adult
clothes from a charity shop, gathered from
friends and family, or a collection of clothes
taken from the children in the class that day, or
images from a different eras.
Making clothes is all about how to relate flat
fabric to a three dimensional figure in the form
of the human body. Central to Western garment
construction is the shape of the human figure with
an aim to contour a three-dimensional form from
two-dimensional fabrics using pattern cutting
and darting techniques. In contrast, Japanese
designers disguised the shape of the human
figure by using draping, folding, pleating and
other fabric manipulation techniques.
Do you think clothing should be androgynous i.e.
for men and women?
In kimono culture, pieces of fabric are wrapped
around the body. Miyake’s A Piece of Cloth
concept (1976) wrapped the figure in a single
length of fabric, which allowed for free and
liberated movement, emphasizing body,
materials and motion. These interstices between
fabric and figure are significant and represent
an expression of ma – the Japanese concept
which views the void between objects as rich,
energised space.
In addition to the draping of cloth to inform the
structure of a garment, the traditional Japanese
art of origami has also informed the garments of
Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and other Japanese
designers. Some of Kawakubo’s garments
have an ambiguous appearance – whereby
when laid flat they have a strong geometric and
graphic appearance without clear indication
of how they might be worn or where the arms
and legs might go. Kawakubo’s Spring/Summer
1998/99 collection can be linked with origami
and the kimono, in particular a vinyl coated,
print colour dress with tight, parallel pleating that
when not being worn can be folded to give the
appearance of a precious gift tied with bows.
• Collect a range of natural and man-made
fabrics (a range of different papers can be
included) and cut each pieces to the size of a
long rectangle.
• Think of and name the different types of
clothing for men and women. Are these
garments linked to masculine or feminine traits
or activities?
• Think up some titles for the garments in the
Flatness section of the exhibition? Try to explain
your reasons for the titles.
2D to 3D 01/Balloon Drawing
• Using a black permanent pen, make a small
drawing of your choice onto a large, deflated
• Inflate the balloon to observe the distortion
and enlargement of the of drawing.
Natural/Synthetic Pleats
• Fold or gather each piece; try to make the
fold/gathers equal, then join each piece
• Stack all pieces on top of each other to make a
layered collar or skirt.
•Observe how differently the natural and
synthetic parts of the garments look.
•Using your knowledge of how natural and
synthetic materials behave, make another skirt/
collar using a different sequence of layered
• Use a mannequin or chose one of your
classmates to be the model and create an
androgynous, asymmetric and abstract
garment – try putting the clothes on inside out
or upside down; try folding them in a unique
way to change their usual shape before adding
them to the garment; don’t be afraid to include
clothes that are too small or large.
• Photograph/record the garment as it develops.
• Make a list of all of the clothes included in
the final garment. Is the garment made up of
mostly masculine or feminine clothing?
Curriculum Links to Art & Design
KS1 & 2
Unit 1B Investigating materials
Unit 1C What is sculpture?
Unit 9gen: Visiting a museum, gallery or site
Unit 8C Shared viewpoints
Unit 9B Change your style
Unit 9C Personal places, public places.
KS3 Unit 10gen: Visiting a museum, gallery or site
Image credit : Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons, Autumn/Winter 1983–84. Photograph by Taishi Hirokawa, courtesy of the Kyoto Costume Institute
Tradition and Innovation
Japanese designers combine traditional and
innovative techniques in their approach to fabric
construction. Japanese textiles culture and
aesthetics continue to inspire, whilst synthetic
fibres and developments in manufacturing
technology informed the innovation of new
fabrics. It is this combination of tradition and
innovation that makes their designs so striking.
The use of traditional techniques only used in
Japan, such as dyeing in the style of aizome (a
traditional indigo-dyed fabric), and use of ancient
Japanese fabrics such as oniyoryu (thick cotton
crepe) and shijiraori (a cloth from Awa usually
woven by women using discarded strips of
cotton) further enhanced the inherent, Japanese
uniqueness of the designs.
The designs in Yohji Yamamoto’s Spring /
Summer 1995 collection took very direct
inspiration from traditional clothing and textiles.
Loose flowing garments demonstrated a wealth
of classic techniques including shibori (tie dye)
and yuzen (resist dying). One piece combined
tradition and innovation by giving the kimono
a contemporary dimension, making it suitable
for modern attire. Much lighter in weight it is worn
open in a manner similar to a dressing gown
or robe.
Collage or IT-Digital Activity
• Select and collect a range of clothes from
different eras, genders, ages and cultures.
• Isolate the component parts of each garment
by cutting out the different pieces of each
garments i.e. if possible separate each arm,
leg, left and right front, below/above the
waistline etc.
• Think of and list the different clothes that young
and older people wear. Consider which items
might be labelled ‘traditional’ and which
• List the materials and techniques from which
these garments are made. What are the
similarities and differences?
• Would you be comfortable to wear the clothing
of an older person? If not, why?
• Select a garment from the exhibition that you
think is the most innovative? What makes it
• Japanese designers use traditional fabrics
to make their garments and give them a
modern twist. Pick an ethnic fabric (African/
Chinese/Scottish etc) and discuss what kind of
garment you could make out of this material.
Think of how you could adapt it (cutting/
deconstructing/embellishing etc) to make your
• What kind of traditional clothing (religious/
ceremonial) could you develop to give add a
contemporary dimension. How? Think about
• What are the differences between natural and
man-made fabrics? Name as many benefits for
each as you can.
• Recreate an innovative garment using the
variety of cutout separate garment pieces.
Image credit : Tao Kurihara/Tao Comme des Garçons, Spring/Summer 2007. Photograph courtesy Comme des Garçons
One of the most outstanding and unparalleled
characteristics of Japanese fashion design is
collaboration with textile designers. Turning away
from existing materials, many Japanese fashion
designers team up with textile designers to make
their own fabrics. Manufacturing processes
include synthetic fibre production and new
dyeing and weaving techniques to create unique
fabrics that are incomparable worldwide.
The hand folded tied and threaded paper
streamers that form Tao Kurihara’s skirt bring to
mind the traditional Japanese craft of origami.
The collection titled ‘A Skirt and Wedding
Dress’, was worn with a polo shirt suggesting
juxtapositions between masculine and feminine.
• Simplify this activity by using only clothing that
‘old people’ and children might wear.
• Work as a team to create a collection of
youthful-aged garments.
Knitting Know-How (Group Activity)
• Purchase a range of knitwear from a charity
• Start to unpick/unravel/take apart the different
parts of each garment from each piece of knit
• Create a new garment from the separate
components (experiment with how you join
each piece together – consider using hand
or machine stitching, threading, weaving or
appliqué techniques using other pieces of
fabric, string, ribbon or yarn).
Curriculum Links with Art & Design
Unit 1B Investigating materials
Unit 9gen: Visiting a museum, gallery or site
Unit 7A Self image
Unit 10gen: Visiting a museum, gallery or site
Cool Japan
• Decoration Accident is the title of a collection
by Tao Kurihara, which could be interpreted as
a negative terms. What do you think inspired
this collection?
After the economic bubble of the 1980s burst,
resulting in a wane of interest in global brands,
young Japanese designers started small,
independent fashion labels and created clothes
that appealed to Japan’s youth culture.
Accessories including black bows and Mary-Jane
platform shoes add to the look. For example,
Tao Kurihara’s Autumn/Winter 2005–06
is an excellent example of Kawaii: historic
undergarments such as bloomers and corsets are
intricately adorned with cable knitting, rosettes
and lacing to create a cool, feminine profile,
which when teamed with gym shorts and pumps
creates a fashionable tomboy look.
Image credit : Tao Kurihara/Tao Comme des Garçons, Autumn/Winter 2005–06. Photograph courtesy of Comme des Garçons
Ohya and Zucca have referenced within their
designs manga characters such as Hello Kitty
and Astro Boy. Jun Takahashi, with his cult label,
Undercover, brings a harder, punk and gothic
edge to the catwalk. Other distinctly Japanese
street styles have been launched through
magazines such as CUTiE and Fruits or the
cosplay (costume play) phenomenon. Lolita and
Gothic Lolita (Goth Loli) styles have made most
impact worldwide. These looks are typified by
young girls’ leaning towards everything kawaii
(cute) and a child-like sensibility expressed in
Victorian and Rococo-inspired costumes.
• European folklore was the inspiration for
some garments. Source and investigate some
of these stories and discuss the costumes,
materials and techniques that these stories
bring to mind.
• Identify characters from your favourite
animated films and comic books; what type
of clothes or details of garments might they
• Tao Kurihara, in describing an element of her
Decorative Accident collection, said ‘It is as if
a dress designed for a doll seen in a dream
has been brought to life’. Describe and list
elements from your own dreams that could be
used to inspire a collection of clothes.
Fairytale Fashion
• Taking inspiration from the garments in the
exhibition, design a range of clothes for a
fairytale character.
Decorative Sampling
• Experiment with decorative hand knitting/
crochet and fabric or paper manipulation
techniques to make a collection of samples.
• Photocopy the samples to create many
multiples and use these to design a whole new
A Simple Start
• Using either a simple shirt or petticoat,
transform it into a new garment using a range
of embellishment and decorative techniques.
Historical Fashion
• Rococo and Victorian costume inspired some of
the garments in the show. Select and research
historical costume from another era and design
your own collection of garments (Use the
library/online sources/museum collections to
help your research).
Cartoon Clothes
• Identify your favourite cartoon/animation
characters and design a range of clothes that
incorporate these characters or scenes from
the film.
Curriculum Links with Art & Design
Unit 6B What a performance
Unit 9gen: Visiting a museum, gallery or site
Unit 8B Animating art
Unit 9B Change your style
Unit 10gen: Visiting a museum, gallery or site
Issey Miyake, Rei
Kawakubo and Yohji
This section focuses on Issey Miyake, Rei
Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto (all presented
within their own section on the Upper Level).
Rei Kawakubo (born 1942) studied art and
literature and worked as a stylist before turning
to fashion and forming Comme des Garçons
(‘like boys’). Her garments can best be described
as challenging established concepts of how men
and women like to dress. Such ideas are best
exemplified in her Body Meets Dress, Meets
Body, Spring/Summer 1997collection in which
pads were inserted into stretch nylon garments
that distorted the human form to extremes.
Yohji Yamamoto (born 1943) studied law
prior to an education in fashion and become
internationally renowned following his 1981
debut in Paris. Similar to Kawakubo’s collection
at that time, his garments were loose fitting and
featured distorted materials which challenged
dominant western style of the time. His garments
juxtapose of the romantic with androgyny and
maculine work-wear/uniform, and offer a very
different view of feminine beauty and sensuality.
Image credit: Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons, Spring/Summer 1997. Photograph courtesy of the Kyoto Costume Institute
Issey Miyake (born 1938) is from Hiroshima
and suffered the loss of most of his family as a
result of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. He initially
studied graphic design and went onto study at
the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture
in Paris. He then worked with Guy Laroche in
Paris and Geoffrey Beane in New York before
setting up the Miyake Design Studio in Tokyo
in 1970. His work is beholden by the traditions
of Japan yet also informed by influences from
American, French and British heritage.
Distortion 03
• Issey Miyake’s work can be said to be
influenced by devastating events, optimism
and curiosity. Define the words devastation,
optimism and curiosity and try to link up events
in recent history or your own life that could be
used to inspire your art & design work.
• Have available a collection of strips of fabric
and clothing of differing qualities: lightweight
to thick/stiff, tissue paper to card plain, either
patterned or plain.
• Rei Kawakubo created stretch garments with
extra padding that grossly distorted the human
figure. Discuss the benefits and disadvantages
that this type of clothing might have if it were
worn everyday.
• Yohji Yamamoto has stated a preference
opinion that perfection is ugly: scars, failure,
disorder. What is your definition of perfection?
Distortion 01
• Take a digital image of yourself and scan into
the computer. Distort your body image by
enlarging and decreasing different parts of
your body.
Distortion 02
• Wear an outfit that is comfortable and
capable of stretching. Use paper, wadding
or strips of material to stuff your outfit so that
it is padded in unusual places on your body.
If possible, wear patterned clothes so that the
distortion of the body is enhanced.
• Alternatively, first pad the body and then take
a checked or striped piece of fabric and wrap
this around the body, which will enhance the
effect of the distortion.
• Work in pairs so that you can photograph each
other to record the outcomes.
• Using tapes or safety pins, attach the pieces of
fabric/card to your outfit with an aim to distort
and extend the volume of your garment. Try
attaching the pieces at different points e.g.
down the spine, at the hemline or cuffs or collar,
around the waist etc.
Curriculum Links with Art & Design
Unit 3C Can we change places?
Unit 9gen: Visiting a museum, gallery or site
Unit 7A Self image
Unit 9B Change your style
Unit 10gen: Visiting a museum, gallery or site
Junya Watanabe, Jun
Takahashi and Tao
the concepts of individuality and beauty,
which are portrayed through a combination
of working with strong and definite forms,
such as a wedding dress or trench coat, and
working with fragile or familiar materials e.g.
handkerchiefs with the trench coat, paper with
wedding dresses.
Jun Takahashi’s (born 1969) ‘Undercover’ label
often works with ‘dark’ themes, such as taxidermy,
Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and
deconstructivist techniques, which can result in
beautiful and strange garments. This is evident
in the A/W 2000/01 collection Melting Pot in
which traditional shapes and garments (narrow
jackets, trousers and long, straight skirts) were
heavily overworked using an amalgamation
of sequins, textured wool, patterned tartans or
wallpaper prints.
Junya Watanabe (born 1961) trained at Bunka
Fashion College and worked at Comme des
Garçons. He takes inspiration from diverse
themes and couples these with an interest in
mid 20th century haute couture and reworking
traditionally accepted masculine garments
with a feminine form. This concept is exemplified
in his Spring/Summer 2010 collection in which
a men’s suit is reworked with curvilinear darts
at the hips and a revealing opening at the back
of the neck, which give a strong accent to
femininity. Watanabe is motivated by using
materials and techniques in innovative and
challenging ways; he once said: ‘I am not
interested in the mainstream’.
Central to Tao Kurihara’s (born 1973) work are
Image credit: Jun Takahashi/Undercover, Autumn/Winter 2000–01. Photograph by Takashi Hatakeyama, courtesy of the Kyoto Costume Institute
These designers share the mentorship or
influence of Rei Kawakubo and her strong sense
of individualism; each of their collections take
inspiration from seasonally changing and diverse
sources (all presented within their own section on
the Upper Level).
• Jun Takahashi, Junya Watanabe and Tao
Kurihara share the influence of Rei Kawakubo.
Observe their work as well as that of Rei
Kawakubo’s, and list the similarities and
differences evident in their garments.
• Can you think of any celebrities who might be
described as having an androgynous clothing
• Jun Takahashi and Junya Watanabe share
interests in combining dark or weird themes
to create beautiful garments. What is your
interpretation of ‘dark’ or strange? Create a list
of words to describe these concepts and which
colours, materials and techniques might be
used with them.
• Source a collection of images of masculine
clothes and re-draw them to give them a
feminine look.
• Select a typically masculine garment to work
with. Select a range of feminine colours and
materials to adorn the garment to transform
it into a feminine form. (Think of typically
feminine techniques to work with e.g. frills,
gathers, sequins etc).
• Watanabe, Takahashi and Kurihara created
garments that comprised different print
designs and embellishment techniques. Identify
and make a list of the different patterns and
techniques you can find in the exhibition.
• Create your own pattern using printmaking
techniques and further embellish it by adding
decorative textile techniques (embroidery
sequins, gathers, frills, ribbons etc) on top.
Curriculum Links with Art & Design
Unit 1B Investigating materials
Unit 3B Investigating pattern
Unit 9gen: Visiting a museum, gallery or site
Unit 10gen: Visiting a museum, gallery or site
Next Generation
Today, the latest generations of designers are
developing as the new pillars of Japanese
fashion. The work of these designers maintains
the focus of developing textile technologies to
create innovative fabrics and combining different
materials in one piece, alongside a fascination
for precision cutting and fine detailing. Further
to these however is the emphasis of relaying
the concept that underpins the works, a trend
that has been influenced by a desire to address
issues of a contemporary society (globalistation/
Mintdesigns, Akira Naka and Anrealage are
three of the next generation designers that are
presented on the Upper Level of the exhibition.
They are all working in very different ways.
Mintdesigns is a women and childrenswear
label launched in 2001. The team comprises
duo Hokuto Katsui and Nao Yagi who met
whilst studying at Central St Martins College,
London. They have a store and studio in Shibuya,
Japan. Their work, which has been described
as delicate and light, is dominated by print and
graphic motifs. The 2007 collection for example,
was inspired by paper-chain dolls used on lace
shirts and shawls, whilst other pieces have been
inspired by newsprint and cult American graphic
Akira Naka studied fashion design at Bunka
Fashion College and Antwerp Royal Academy
before establishing his label in 2008. He
specialises in knitwear coupled with interesting
tailoring techniques, as an example his 2009
collection featured pencil skirts with cable knit
detailing along the hemline.
Anrealage (a combination of the words: real,
Image credit: Mintdesigns, Autumn/Winter 2008–09. Photograph by Sunao Omori, courtesy mintdesigns Inc. Originally published in Kateigaho International Edition, vol. 21
unreal and age) was launched by Kunihiko
Morinaga in 2003. He studied at Waseda
University and Vantan Design Academy, Japan.
His work is avant-garde and informed
by structure; recent works were displayed
on geometric forms before being adorned
by the models; other pieces have been displayed
only as silhouettes highlighted against
a black background.
• Define consumerism and create a list of
associated issues.
• What is your understanding of globalisation
and can you explain the impact that it has had
on the fashion industry/clothing?
• How do you go about communicating a
message through clothing? List examples of
clothing from the exhibition that have a clear
• Mintdesigns have used newspaper captions
to inform some of their print designs. Discuss
some recent news headlines from a range of
newspapers then describe a symbol or motif
that could accompany each headline.
• Research the work of other artists that have
used newsprint or captions in their work, e.g.
Sarah Lucas, Barbara Kreuger or Bob and
Roberta Smith. Do you think their work could
be incorporated into fashion design? If so
• In a group work activity think of a current issue
such as sustainability / global warming that
you would like to address.
• List the colours, materials and techniques that
you might use and design a garment that seeks
to highlight the issue.
• Much of the work by the Next Generation
designers could be described as having
contrasting elements, Mintdesigns work has
been described as delicate and light and yet
dominated by motifs taken from cult American
graphic novels whose subject matter is a
contrast to the delicate and light description.
• Create pairs of contrasting words and match
some techniques and materials to accompany
these; next design a range of garments for a
collection called ‘Contrast’
Comic Elements
• Source a range of comic books and identify a
range of characteristics central to each comic
e.g. Is there a super hero and what are their
characteristics and costume? Is there an antihero? What is the message of the story?
• Design simplified symbols/ motifs to represent
some of the characteristics.
• Create a repeat print design, using some of
symbols/ motifs, for a fashion fabric that could
be used in a garment of your choice.
Curriculum Links with Art & Design
Unit 3B Investigating pattern
Unit 5C Talking textiles
Unit 9gen: Visiting a museum, gallery or site
Unit 9B Change your style
KS3 Unit 10gen: Visiting a museum, gallery or
Catherine Ince and Rie Nii, eds., Future Beauty:
30 Years of Japanese Fashion (London: Merrell
Publishers and Barbican Art Gallery, 2010).
The Barbican
Akiko Fukai, ed., Fashion: The Collection of the
Kyoto Costume Institute: A History from the 18th to
the 20th Century, Köln, Taschen, 2002
Yuniya Kawamura, The Japanese Revolution in
Paris Fashion, Oxford, Berg, 2004
Toby Slade, Japanese Fashion: A Cultural History,
Oxford, Berg, 2009
Linda Dresner ed., Refusing Fashion: Rei
Kawakubo, Detroit, Museum of Contemporary
Arts, 2008
Patrick Macias and Izumi Evers, Japanese
Schoolgirl Inferno : Tokyo Teen Fashion Subculture
Handbook, San Francisco, Chronicle Books,
Kyoto Costume Institutue (KCI) www.kci.or.jp/index.html?lang=en
V&A Museum
Design Museum
Issey Miyake
Yohji Yamamoto
Comme des Garcons collections www.doverstreetmarket.com/dsmpaper/
Image credit: Issey Miyake, A-POC, Le Feu Series, 1998 Illustration by Gladys Perint Palmer, courtesy Fashion People (Assouline)
Planning your visit
City Road
Old Street
Bunhill Row
well Ro
Aldersgate Street
Silk Str
Liverpool Street
rn V
London Wall
£3 schools groups of 10 or more, Mon–Fri only.
Standard tickets £8 online / £10 on the door.
Concessions £7 online / £8 on the door.
Barbican Member £6 online / £7 on the door.
How To Find Us
Barbican Art Gallery is on Level 3 of the Centre.
Enter via the main entrance on Silk St and cross
the Foyer to the lift and stairs to reach Level 3.
Nearest tube stations:
Barbican, Moorgate, St Paul’s, Liverpool Street.
Nearest train stations: Liverpool St, Farringdon,
City Thameslink, Barbican, Moorgate.
Coach: there is a setting down and picking up
point in Silk St. Parking is limited to the metered
bays in Silk St and Fore St. For further information
contact 020 7606 3030, asking for Parking
You can find public telephones in the lift lobby just
across the road from the Level –1 exit, on Level 2,
and on Level 3.
If you have any questions during your visit, please
speak to a member of the Art Gallery staff who
will be happy to help.
We would welcome feedback this teachers’
resource and the exhibition. Please send your
feedback to Creative Learning, Barbican Centre,
Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS
T: 020 7382 2333 F: 020 7382 7037
E: [email protected]
Further Information
Gallery Opening Times
11am–8pm except Tuesday and Wednesday
11am-6pm, Thursday evenings open until 10pm
Waterside Café, just off the Foyer on Level G,
offers full meals as well as sandwiches, drinks and
also children’s meals. It is not suitable for large
For all group bookings and general enquiries
please call Groups Booking Line on
020 7382 7211, (booking line is open 10am–5pm,
Monday to Friday), fax 020 7382 7270 or email
[email protected]
Old St
Barbican Art Gallery
Level 3, Barbican Centre
Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS
are plenty of picnic benches and tables.
Disabled Visitors
Barbican Art Gallery is fully accessible for
wheelchair users. For full Access information
please visit www.barbican.org.uk/visitor–
information/disability–access. You can also
call or email the Barbican Access Manager on
[email protected] 020 7382 7348.
There is a free cloakroom on Level 3, directly
outside Barbican Art Gallery.
There are toilets on Level 3 directly outside
Barbican Art Gallery, and in addition on Level –1
for when you are on your way into and out of the
Cafes / Packed Lunches
If you have brought packed lunches you can eat
in the Stalls Floor Foyer (Level –1) the Main Foyer
(Level G) or outside on the Lakeside where there
There is medical assistance available on site at all
Full evacuation staff are available at all times.
Creative Learning has a full CRB child protection
If you would like to see the full policy please
contact Creative Learning on 020 7382 2333.
Please contact Creative Learning if you would like
risk assessment information.
Top Tips for Planning your Visit
Written by Lesley Raven.
Edited by Hester Alban Davies and Christine
Stewart, Creative Learning.
Thanks to Akiko Fukai, Director of the Kyoto
Costume Institute (KCI) and Catherine Ince,
Curator Barbican Art Gallery.
Creative Learning
Barbican Centre
Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS
T: 020 7382 2333
F: 020 7382 7037
E: [email protected]
Book your visit via our dedicated Groups Booking
Line – 020 7382 7211.
See barbican.org.uk/creativelearning for
information about other Creative Learning events.
Preliminary Visit
Make a preliminary visit before bringing your
group. This will enable you to make best use of
your visit to achieve your teaching and learning
The City of London
Corporation is the founder
and principal funder of the
Barbican Centre