Comme des garçons, 1988
“Of course there are business as well as creative reasons for the Comme des Garçons style. The point of a remarkable interior is to evoke such a strong sense of identity that even the most humble purchase - a belt or a pair of socks - brings with it some of that underlying identity. The contrast between the textures of the garments, hanging on neatly spaced racks that read like sculptural elements and the cement wall is all part of the establishment of the uniqueness of the Comme des Garçons label. To put too many garments on display can diminish their impact, hence the company’s first Paris shop had on show less than half the stock a conventional high-fashion retailer would have installed. In environments with so few distractions, the customer can hardly fail to be aware of the subtle qualities of the clothes.”
from rei kawakubo and comme des garçons
We are losing those young people because we have too much information by media, especially [through computers]. We can see everything at the same time, so already they are spoiled too much. So when we have talk sessions with young designers or students, I tell them: “Be bright. Your eyes have become dirty.”
— Yohji Yamamoto (via hypn)
When I do interviews about my work, sometimes I find that I have to explain about my personal story. For example, fashion movement. Two rivers sometimes meet, then say goodbye. It happens. And when I first came to Paris to do a show, everyone was saying, “Dress up, dress up, dress up.” So I hated it. So let’s dress down, let’s break. Why do you have to follow this special elegance? There are other kinds of elegance. We have to be free in front of many kinds of beauty. In this modern age, good design is sometimes too simple, and I find that this is absolutely against a point of beauty, simplicity. And this is a kind of kabuki, or ceremony. And when you remember the time of art nouveau, La Belle Epoque, you can find so many kinds of useless beauty, nonsense beauty. But sometimes in your life, you have to understand that kind of beauty, because if you follow just simple convenience to live, you lose something. So I wanted to say, “Let’s have some nonsense, useless spirit on the clothes. Let’s play.”
— Yohji Yamamoto, “The French collection: true to form” (via organization)
But it definitely had its redemptive elements in the early shows, notably in its conversion of Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons from intellectual shroud-maker to a designer of fresh, realistic and, yes, feminine fashion. Yohji Yamamoto stuck to his Oriental sword, but interjected a new, if occasionally awkward body-defining wrapping. And Thierry Mugler ponied through the Sixties with a luridly nostalgic collection that makes one wonder if Stephen Sprouse — who triggered the whole Sixties revival — hasn’t unleashed a monster on the world.
COMME DES GARCONS — who would ever have thought it? Fashion intellectual samurai Rei Kawakubo went ingenue for spring, neath and the well-crafted dresses of which Mugler is capable, which render hourglass curves without kitsch or vulgarity.
YOHJI YAMAMOTO — Like Kawakubo, he’s obviously made an attempt to go beyond the cerebral somberness of so-called vanguard Japanese fashion, a look for which retailers had lost affection — not to mention sales — by last season. Accordingly, there is a new, richer color palette and an attempt to pull fabric in closer to the body. Unfortunately, Yamamoto’s drapes, cowls and wraps are not always flattering, particularly when they sag beneath the derriere. This is a collection, in fact, that might have benefited from being shown with its collective backs against a wall, as there’s nearly always some distracting detail in the rear, including a ducktail bustle and long rear-zippered flies. There is also a heaviness in much of Yamamoto’s use of longer lengths.
— “Paris stays in shape for spring, likes lots of leg,” WWD Oct. 19, 1984
Yes, you read all of that correctly. That’s what they actually said.
Every generation comes thinking they are destined to change the world. My generation’s duty is perhaps the most difficult because they know they will not change it. This duty my generation has is to stop the world of crumbling into pieces.”
— Albert Camus (via werrottende)
A mate of mine found it, he knew I was after one and one of his friends just so happened to have one. Another friend of mine who is one of the biggest Stone Island and C.P Company collectors and just so happens to be from Burnley like me, has got a few pieces from transformable series that Moreno Ferrari did for C.P Company that he is ready to sell, so I am getting them and I couldn’t be more excited. They might not be the best pieces, like the inflatable armchair jacket, but they are awesome. Hey, they are transformables which is fucking cool!
They are a massive part of why I became a designer, those pieces and items like the Goggle Jacket. It’s all about product. If I go in there and put the jacket on, it would be nice but I almost get more enjoyment looking at them to be honest, same with Goggle Jacket I buzz of the fact that it’s got a face. It’s like a superhero costume. They are more valuable as objects. It is why my whole thinking isn’t about styling and fashion but instead about making a cool object, suspending it and looking at it - let’s geek out over it.”
— Aitor Throup via Style Salvage
In reserving the category of “fashion” exclusively for certain kinds of white Western bourgeois styles of dress and personhood, the fashion elite have hijacked the term. Styles and practices of dress not sanctioned by the fashion elite are relegated to the broad category of “non-fashion,” which includes everything from outdated clothing styles to “ethnic garb.” In this binary logic, “fashion” is the sign of Western modernity, innovation, dynamism, and choice (a point Myers emphasizes so strongly) and non-fashion is the sign of the unmodern, the uninnovative, the static, and the oppressed. People associated with non-fashions like, say “ethnic garb,” are imagined as “traditional” subjects who lag behind or are situated outside of the modern West.
Fashion’s alignment with “the modern” and, tacitly, white American and Western European culture is a foundational fiction of fashion that passes for self-evident truth in too much popular, vernacular, and critical fashion discourse. But fashion isn’t alone in its imperialist claims on “the modern”. This dominant logic of fashion is part and parcel of what Minoo Moallem usefully describes as “civilizational thinking”: “a powerful modern discourse influenced by the Enlightenment and the idea of progress dividing the civility of the ‘West’ from the barbarism of the ‘Rest.’” Hardly an innocent sartorial designation, the logic of “ethnic garb” which places some practices and styles of dress outside of the category of Fashion (and all the positive connotations that accrue to it) has produced devastating material, social, and physical consequences.”
Minh-Ha T. Pham, “Fraught Intimacies: Fashion & Feminism (The Director’s Cut)” (via indigocrayon)
As we have just passed the ten year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, we might consider how civilizational-sartorial thinking has shaped recent cultural politics and military policies. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, veils and veiled Muslim women were pathologized as passive victims in need of rescue from their oppressive religion, culture, and men. As I discuss in greater detail elsewhere, it was not just the fashion media but also the news media, politicians, and, yes, mainstream feminists who perceived the veil as the exemplary Other to fashion. Consider this statement by a Salon.com writer: “frivolous fashion is itself a patriotic symbol of America: You may never be able to afford that shredded Georgette Givenchy gown, but at least you aren’t forced to live underneath a burqa.” The veil, within this civilizational logic, is rendered the material symbol of not only Eastern tradition (as opposed to Western modernity) but a tradition imagined as brutally backwards and oppressive. This image of the victimized veiled woman played a large role in substantiating the humanitarian justification for the war in Afghanistan. Recall all the ways in which the U.S. State Department’s Report on the Taliban’s War against Women centered on the burqa and its perceived infringement on Muslim women’s freedoms. Civilizational thinking occludes the possibility that the burqa might be a fashionable garment that women wear to express their own identities, worldviews, and choices. In other words, civilizational-sartorial thinking denies Muslim women’s agency and in so doing, it negates important feminist histories of veiling such as the choice of some Egyptian women in the 1970s and 1980s to veil as a resistant act challenging Western and secular cultural domination.
Ironically, on certain bodies (often, white, thin, and normative gender-presenting) “non-fashion” can be transformed into “fashion”. By the latter half of the 2000s, burqas and other kinds of veils were seen on fashion runways and magazines, worn by young white models like the Australian Gemma Ward. But instead of operating as a material sign of unmodern, non-Western, Oriental otherness, the young, white Australian model’s body legitimated the burqa as a cosmopolitan commodity belonging to and circulating within multicultural global capitalism.
The many incidences of fashion’s cultural appropriation are too long to list but some are found in the histories of now iconic and/or trendy garments like bloomers, miniskirts, and name plate necklaces. Each of these items originated in “non-fashionable” locations but came to be later recognized as “fashionable” when worn on the bodies of influential white women.
Yatsushi refers to the intentional transformation of something splendid and beautiful, or of a noble spirit, into something plain and common. […]The Japanese writing system uses some different Chinese characters to represent yatsushi. One of these is the character , which conveys a sense of omission or reduction, of simplifying something. In this sense, yatsushi connotes reducing something splendid and magnificent to the small and simple; or taking something lofty and entitled status and reducing it to something commonplace and ordinary. For example, a Japanese dry landscape garden layout might be intended to convey an image of the vastness of Horai-san, or Mount Penglai, the legendary home of the Chinese Immortals. It achieves this in miniature with a few stones and some gravel. In effect, an ideal world, invisible to the eye, is recreated out of very ordinary materials. This is the beauty of the dry landscape garden.
In Japanese flower arrangement, a few flowers placed in an alcove are a reduction (yatsushi) that represents the beauty of the flowering plants of each of the four seasons. Miniature bonsai trees are a direct example of yatsushi.
The rustic simplicity of the tea ceremony takes the ideal of tea drinking in the rich, ornately decorated surroundings of a Japanese manor with luxurious Chinese implements and reduces it to the spare elgance of an austere, thatched cottage. […]
Viewing it this way, one can understand that the aesthetic sense of yatsushi is of central importance in classical Japanese visual and performing arts. Yatsushi is deeply connected to the fact the Japan as an island nation unquestioningly accepted the overpowering culture of continental Asia; then through a process of nativizing that culture, the Japanese reduced and simplified it in their own way.
But as one investigates and ponders this concept of yatsushi, one somehow feels that something mysterious is going on. Simply put, why would reduction, yatsuhi, be associated with beauty at all ?
Yatsushi is rarely beautiful in itself. The appearance is common, unsophisticated, sometimes shabby. even if you know that what you are seeing is a reduction of something splendid, does that necessarily mean it will appear beautiful ? That many people do react to it as beautiful must be because it move something deep in the human spirit, something deeper than understanding.
This winter, I visited Tofuku-ji Temple in Kyoto. I looked out from the famous bridge Tsuten-kyo, which spans a small stream, over a forest of countless Japanese maples, now bare of their leaves. The ground was covered with a layer of huge maple leaves that looked like the white cast-off skins of small hands. For a moment, those of us gazing at this magnificent scenery traveled through time, spontaneously sensing the blazing red leaves of white autumn and the hidden life that was waiting to burst forth in the budding of early spring. It was strange to be reminded of the richness of seasonal changes while seeing only sere, dry branches. I have heard that long ago, the Japanese enjoyed, and still enjoy, flower-viewing in the spring and excursions to see the leaves of autumn. To be sure, such landscapes can seem very bleak . But precisely because they are bleak, there is a richness to the scene that one can see with the heart.
Without the Japanese capacity to discern the depth of time that exists in seemingly plain and unsophisticated things, the beauty of yatsushi probably could not have arisen. A doorway to a world or richness opens from within familiar, plain appearance.
(found via Styleforum Runway & High Fashion Thread)
Life is, in itself and forever, shipwreck. To be shipwrecked is not to drown. The poor human being, feeling himself sinking into the abyss, moves his arms to keep afloat. This movement of the arms which is his reaction against his own destruction, is culture — a swimming stroke….
(But ten centuries of cultural continuity brings with it — among many advantages the great disadvantage that man believes himself safe, loses the feeling of shipwreck, and his culture proceeds to burden itself with parasitic and lymphatic matter. Some discontinuity must therefore intervene, in order that man may renew his feeling of peril, the substance of his life. All his life-saving equipment must fail, then his arms will once again move redeemingly.)
— Goethe from Within, José Ortega y Gasset