Monthly Archives: June 2009

Luxury in fashion RECONSIDERED

Here’s my report for the exhibition held at MOMAK (Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto) – “Luxury in fashion RECONSIDERED”.

The exhibition was very interesting, using luxury as the key word and vantage point for looking at fashions from the 17th century to contemporary times. The exhibition was divided into three parts. The first section, Ostentation, included displays of dresses from the 1800s taken from various countries, mostly England, Italy and France. Court dresses and weddings gowns as well as men’s suits were all created with elaborate fabrics and garments with painstaking detail, most notably beadwork and applique. As can be imagined, most of the clothing created during that era were handmade, so the amount of labour that must have gone into the dresses must have been incredible. Some of my favourite ones included an ivory-colored dress with swirling patterns created from sewn-on jewel beetle wings.

The Balencianga set and Louis Vuitton coat certainly received the most attention though, probably because they stood out amongst the many court dresses and definitely screamed couture. I do like both pieces very much; the cut and embroidery of the Balencianga jacket is beautiful, and  I ADORE the LV coat because it’s just gorgeous. Interesting how fur has always been associated with luxury and gives a sense of glamour.

We then moved on to the next section Less is More, which was certainly quite a switch. Here, minimalism was the key, and ornamentation was reduced to an absolute minimum while silhouttes and overall shapes were emphasised. Here, the Chanel and Balencianga dresses demonstrated simplicity that met the need for both comfort, function and yet modern sophistication.

The third section, Clothes are free-spirited, was certainly one of my favourites – here, “the intense relationship that is generated between the designer and the wearer”. Pieces from the Commes de Garcons collection by the talented Rei Kawakubo displayed craft, beauty and a new level of fashion as interactive art. The garments, formed from either one large piece or a few seperate pieces, were laid out and photographed as a plan, the result of which appeared as an irregularly-shaped wrapping paper.

Finally, Uniqueness which featured one-off garments by Maison Martin Margiela attempted to ‘represent contemporary concepts of luxury, such as “one-off,” “recyclability,” and “hand-made.” ‘ This took fashion to yet another more artistic level, with pieces created from found objects including bottle caps and poker cards. Particularly impressive was a new wedding dress created from the parts of three cut-up wedding dresses.

Overall a worthy visit. The exhibition will be moving over to Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) from Oct 31, 2009, so do check it out if you are in the area!


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