The groundhog may not have seen his shadow yesterday, but for many of us down South Spring weather is already here, and with it new Spring gallery openings in art and fashion. Seeming to catch on to the winds of change today, each of these exhibits explore times of transformation‒in commerce, politics, and pop culture. Fashion often serves as a reflection of the times, and the retrospective examinations in these exhibits give us a lens through which to view industry changes today. Here’s a preview of a few of our not-to-miss picks this Spring:
On Now: “New Women for a New Age of Japanese Beauties“ at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
This collection of woodblock prints, illustrations, and photographs explores the changing image of Japanese women from the 1890s to the 1930s‒a time when Japan experienced an Industrial Revolution and rapid globalization. The chronological arrangement of prints allows the viewer to examine the evolution of Japan itself represented by the changing depictions of women. In the Meiji Era (1868-1912), the Japanese government promoted travel and enjoyed increase commercial activity‒a great departure from the previous years of isolated feudalism. With these global connections came international exchange in art styles and technique. German pigment processes found their way to Japanese print makers, while the famous Japanese landscape styles had a strong influence on the early Impressionists Manet, Monet, and Degas as well as post-Impressionists van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec.
These changes manifested themselves as women searching for a balance of old and new as seen here in Katsuda’s Tetsu’s “Woman standing next to a Christmas Tree”. The woman depicted pairs elegant Western earrings and bob hairstyle with a more traditional kimono dress in front of a Christmas tree representing Japan’s goal to present themselves as sophisticated citizens of the world. The prints on view are impressive for their beautiful compositions as well as their ability to reflect the rapid social change of the times.
This exhibit is open through August 20, 2017.
Out Today: “The 1980s: An Age of Excess” at Kent State University Museum, Kent Ohio.
With more than 50 pieces, “The 1980s: An Age of Excess” explores the extravagance of 80s fashion with a focus on the effects of the decade’s prominent figures‒political, cultural and even royal. The collection shows a spread of European and American designers including Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan and Bill Blass figured in an often overlooked or dismissed era of fashion. Museum Director Jean Druesedow notes that viewers may be surprised by the relevance of the styles on display as “some garments have retained an aesthetic that transcends the decade”. This exhibit also explores the technology-driven fashions of Issey Miyake‒the original Iris van Herpen perhaps?
The exhibit is open through September 3, 2017.
Opening Next Week: “Paris Refashioned, 1957-1968“ at the Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC.
Maybe the most exciting fashion exhibit opening this year, “Paris Refashioned” examines the transformation of the fashion industry in the 1950s and the special significance of Paris during this time. This exhibit feels especially timely as the industry today grapples with changes in the fashion calendar, questions on the relevance of fashion press, and the challenge of rapid trend turnover.
The arrival of luxury “Ready-to-Wear” under couture houses began here in Paris with the founding of Chloé in 1952 and the launch of Rive Gauche by Yves Saint Laurent, a development that allowed couturiers to experiment with new materials and styles previously limited by the formalities of haute couture. These changes resulted in a necessarily younger aesthetic prefered by cultural figures of the time like Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve. The exhibit actually includes a piece designed by Yves Saint Laurent and worn by Catherine Deneuve in my favorite movie Belle du Jour‒ worth a trip to New York in itself!
On view until April 15, 2017.
Happy fashion viewing and let us know your thoughts on these exhibits below!