Future Beauty: The Simple and the Outrageous

Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to experience my first press preview. Lucky for me, it was an exhibition of personal interest: fashion!

Although on most days you will usually find me sporting a casual tee with a quirky slogan and colored jeans, there are times when I would push myself to wear something… well, spunky. I have a secret love for patterns and edgy accessories. Between my Doc Martens and asymmetrical bob hairstyle, I am a big fan of contrast. But after seeing the development of design history at the Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), I am inspired to seek out a new kind of style.

Yohji Yamamoto, Autumn/Winter 1996 Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute, Photo by Takashi Hatakeyama

Yohji Yamamoto, Autumn/Winter 1996
Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute, Photo by Takashi Hatakeyama

On display until September 8, more than 100 garments created by Japanese fashion designers like Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo, and Yohji Yamamoto are on view now. Featuring decades of innovative designs, the exhibition highlights how the influence of Japanese fashion has shaped Western styles.

While fawning over the marvelous patterns and outrageous designs, I realized that there can be both simplicity and complexity in an outfit.

The exhibit is divided into four sections: “In Praise of Shadows;” “Flatness;” “Tradition and Innovation;” and “Cool Japan.” I was inspired by some of the designers’ minimalistic and original style. In one section, designs were based on black and white aesthetics with a focus on textures, forms, and the effects of light and shade. The picture featured on the right is an elegant piece by Yohji Yamamoto and is made of black and white wool felt.


Tatsuno Koji, Autumn/Winter 1993-94
Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute, Gift of Mr. Koji Tatsuno; Photo by Aileen Aquino

Featured styles include Japanese street and punk fashion, including the famous “harajuku” style. Others involved a style that was more innovative and conceptual (pictured on the left). It is no surprise that Western designers such as Alexander McQueen were greatly influenced by such designs. Lady Gaga’s infamous “heel-less” shoes can also be viewed at the exhibition. And if you want to see more than still models, runway shows from the past will be playing throughout the galleries.

This is a unique exhibition that highlights a different kind of art: the art of design. We are lucky that SAM is the first in the U.S. and one of only two museums to feature this exhibition of design history.

Although I’ll never part ways with my Doc Martens, I am now motivated to begin my hunt for the simple and the outrageous. Perhaps with some added peplum and multicolored tulle.

By the way, if you’ll be around the downtown area during the Fourth of July, the SAM will have free admission until its closing time at 9 p.m.


About the Author

Aileen Aquino

Aileen Aquino is the Public Relations Intern at Visit Seattle. A lover of food, music, and dance, she will always be found at a food or arts festival, exercising her taste buds and dexterity. When she’s not exploring her new home of three years, she’s snuggled under her covers, watching Battlestar Galactica and favorite romantic comedies. A native of Guam, where the sun shines year-round and the temperature never drops below 70, she is proud to call Seattle her second home.

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