Monday, March 1, 2010

The Japanese Avant Garde in Paris

by Angela Marzan

Yuniya Kawamura’s “The Japanese Revolution in Paris Fashion”: It was first published in 2004 in Fashion Theory, Volume 8, Issue 2. The author is an assistant professor of sociology at FIT. She is also professionally trained as a fashion designer and a patternmaker at Bunka School of Fashion in Japan, Kingston Polytechnic in England, and FIT. She completed her Ph.D. dissertation at Columbia University. At the time the article was published, Kawamura was studying Japanese street style in New York and Japan.

Kenzo F 2009

The article “adopts a production-of-culture theoretical approach” (195). It discusses the introduction of Japanese designers into the French fashion industry from 1970 to 2003, during a time when haute couture was losing its primary clientele. Of particular interest are the designers and their relationship to the French fashion system. The designers that she speaks of are Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Hanae Mori, and Kenzo.

Kenzo S/S 09 Ad campaign by Mario Sorrenti

Kenzo Takada was born February 27, 1939 in Himeji, Japan. He is a Japanese fashion designer and the founder of Kenzo. He shortly attended the University of Kobe and in 1958, he began attending the fashion school Tokyo's Bunka Fashion College, which had just begun to admit male students. He settled in Paris in 1964 where he tried to gain a place in the fashion environment by attending shows, making contacts with the media, and selling sketches. Around 1970, Kenzo began to gain success. His first men's collection was launched in 1983. In 1993 the brand Kenzo came under ownership of LVMH. He retired in 1999, but returned as decoration designer in 2005.

Miyake, SS 2008

Issey Miyake FW 2009

Issey Miyake was born April 22, 1938. He is a Japanese fashion designer known for his technology-driven clothing designs. He studied graphic design at the Tama Art University in Tokyo, graduating in 1964. After graduation, he worked in Paris and New York City. Returning to Tokyo in 1970, he founded the Miyake Design Studio. In 1994 and 1999, Miyake turned over the design of the men's and women's collections Naoki Takizawa, so that he could return to research full-time. In 2007, Naoki Takizawa was replaced by Dai Fujiwara.

Yamamoto F 2007

When speaking of her article, Kawamura offers a definition for the difference between fashion and clothing: I introduce Fashion-ology, a scientific and sociological investigation of fashion as a system that constitutes institutions, organizations, groups, designers, gatekeepers, events, and practices, and that contributes to the making of 'fashion'. The structural nature of the system affects the legitimation process of designers' creativity, and the inclusion and exclusion of designers in/from the system… A systemic analysis of fashion helps us make a distinction between fashion and clothing which are two independent, autonomous entities although they are often utilized interchangeably. Clothing is a material production while fashion is a symbolic production. Clothing is a necessity while fashion is an excess. Clothing has a utility function while fashion has a status function. Clothing is found in any society where people clothe themselves while fashion must be institutionally constructed and culturally diffused.

Comme des Garcons S 2008

Comme des Garcons F 2009

She also defines social capital as connections within the industry, particularly in regards to Mori, which Kawamura posits is fundamental in Mori’s place amongst haute couture houses in France. Her belief is that despite the avant garde quality of the Japanese designers, they are still resigned to conforming to the laws of the French fashion system, explaining that these designers only show in Paris, not Japan. She furthers this idea by stating that if a designer wishes to succeed, they must submit to the French fashion system. Thus, in order to make it in the fashion world, one must submit to the Western fashion power.

Hanae Mori 2001, 2004

Hanae Mori was born January 8, 1926. She is the only Japanese woman to have presented her collections on the runways of Paris and New York, and the first Asian woman to be admitted as an official haute couture design house by the fédération française de la couture in France. She graduated from Tokyo Women's Christian University and then married and attended dressmaking school. She opened her first atelier in 1951 and in 1965, she presented her first New York collection, "East Meets West". Twelve years later, she opened an haute couture showroom in Paris, leading to her appointment as a member of La Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. In 1997 Dominique Sirop became the grand couturier.

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