Trends in Japan > Fashion > When Fashion Meets Art
Clothes Designed to Be Worn and Appreciated
(March 7, 2008)

Art is being integrated into fashion items.
(C) Basquiat Estate.

Art-inspired fashion is increasingly visible on the streets of Tokyo in the form of T-shirts with artsy graphics, dresses with optical and abstract patterns, and other eye-catching items. An array of artistic creations were also unveiled in the 2008 spring and summer collections, from colorful Louis Vuitton handbags that are the product of a collaboration with modern artist Richard Prince, to the creations of Maurizio Pecoraro incorporating elements of the modern art of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, to Prada works evoking art nouveau. Many of the pieces could almost be works of art themselves.


(C) Basquiat Estate.

Fashion on Show
A growing number of art museums are staging exhibitions on fashion themes. The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo held "Krizia Moving Shapes" in 2001 and "Space for Your Future: Recombining the DNA of Art and Design" in 2007, Mori Arts Center Gallery presented exhibitions on Giorgio Armani and Vivienne Westwood in 2005, and the National Art Center, Tokyo, showed "Skin+Bones, Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture" in 2007.

Fashion is increasingly being viewed as an art form by museums and other institutions. As a result of reforms carried out when Japan's national museums became independent administrative institutions, as well as the rise in the number of new museums, fashion has been added to the list of potential themes for exhibitions, since such events can be expected to attract large numbers of visitors.


A T-shirt printed with a Keith Haring design. (C) Haring Estate.

Art on the Go
Art on display in museums is at a disadvantage because of space constraints. By contrast, art-inspired fashion travels with the person wearing it. Marc Jacobs, a designer at Louis Vuitton, made the news when he succeeded in getting loyalists of the brand's monogrammed bags to carry artistic bags he created in collaboration with Stephen Sprouse, known for his graffiti-like scribbles, and Takashi Murakami. The Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo, meanwhile, has marketed a series of T-shirts, reasonably priced at ¥1,500 (about $14 at ¥110 to the dollar), emblazoned with the designs of pop artists Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. It has also organized T-shirt design competitions, emphasizing its belief that people can be a conduit for art and that clothes can be enjoyed both by those wearing them and those viewing them. The moves to use fashion to make art more accessible are steadily gaining ground.

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