Edo Pop at the Japan Society

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Tokyo …

… has started yesterday night! And aren’t we usually impressed with the extravagant Asian fasion?! I spent my Saturday afternoon at the Japan Society on th Upper East Side in Manhattan. They currently have a wonderful exhibition on display – Edo Pop. Edo used to be what Tokyo is now, and the exhibition focuses on the ukiyo-e woodblock printing technique. Japan was in an era of peace and wealth at the time, so this art focuses less on deep meanings, political implications and social critiques. It actually focused on something much more superficial – fashion and beauty.

As you know, I believe that all forms of art interact, and this exhibit is a wonderful example. Adequately introducing the aesthetic of the exhibit we have the “Sunrise” by Aiko. (Picture 1) The way she constructed this painting is very much in the style of the Edo period (1618-1868) as you will find. My favorite artist was Tomokazu Matsuyama. He was born in Japan, had then lived in Los Angeles in the 80’s, moved back to Japan just to find that he was lost between cultures. Now he lives in Brooklyn and his art reflects a layer of cultures. The connection to fashion is quite obvious to me – and you I hope – with bold patterns and prints, that could easily be adapted into fashion and serve as inspiration. (Pictures 3,4&8) He is a modern artist that uses the same historical printing technique, much like the Scottish Paul Binnie. His interpretation of the Edo Pop era is one that emphasizes beauty in a more sexual way. (Picture 5)

Traditionally, (Edo period was from 1618-1868) the amount of colors for this technique were restricted, but we see that even in menswear (!!!) the emphasis was clearly on the fashion. (Pictures 6,9&10) Elaborate costumes decorated the male bodies – a connotation I have to make at this point, is that men as actors for example, would play male as well as female roles, so the line between men and women was a little blurry anyways.

Lastly, I could really appreciate Emily Allchurch’s work. Her photography of landscapes was mounted on a special frame that illuminated the picture, making the colors very bright and vibrant. I added this because I think it could be a great inspiration for designers.

In conclusion, we see a strong relationship between art and fashion in the Edo period, and the fact that this exhibition is on display might inspire a designer for his next collection – and the circle is complete. I urge you to check it out if you have the opportunity …

Share Your Passion – Marcel

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