Future Beauty, 30 Years of Japanese Fashion opened yesterday at The Barbican Centre. Having nothing better or more glamorous to do myself and my friend Fan went down to check it out. We spent nearly three hours marveling at the exquisite and sometimes incredible works on display. The show comprises two whole floors of white on white rooms. The first thing to strike me was the attendees. Mostly fashion students I am sure, young, hip and dressed with so much style that they demanded as much attention as the exhibits themselves. An atmosphere of awe and reverence encapsulated the show. It is twenty years since I was last at The Barbican but I don’t remember it being so hushed and church-like.
On the first floor a series of mannequins are displayed in an open plan room which is gently divided up by curtains of sheer white fabric. All the mannequins are without hair or extra embellishment which serves to highlight the extraordinary creations by designers like
Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto. Particularly striking to me were the honey-combed constructions of polyester organza by Junya Watanabe pictured.
We rested awhile and watched some amazing films featuring catwalk shows, interviews and working methods of Miyake, Kawakubo and Yamamoto. What pleased me the most was the kaleidoscopic explosion of joy in Miyake’s featured show. Smiling animated models pouring freely onto an open platform in blocks of bright neon had me laughing with delight. Superhuman dancers illustrated perfectly the truly remarkable qualities of his exceptional designs.
Upstairs the exhibits are arranged in separate white rooms around two atriums that somehow don’t seem like atriums. To me it felt like we had traversed in a straight line? Perhaps this is deliberate on the curator’s part. Like the origami designs by Miyake, the building itself folds out differently in experience to its physical configuration. Here we see a more colourful and playful display introducing the newer younger generation of designers like Mintdesigns, Undercover by Jun Takahashi plus an example of the world famous street style from Tokyo’s Harajuku district.
Fan described it as an inspirational day out and it was.