'Radical Fashion' and 'Out of Japan' at the V & A, London, 26th November 2001

From: Josh
Category: Exhibitions
Date: 27 November 2001


Nothing radical about this 'show'. As superficial, contrived, commercialised, vacuous and unsatisfying to normal people as its subject matter: high (and completely unaffordable) fashion. Constructed around personalities, Jean Paul Gaultier, Comme des Garcons, Issey Mayake, you know the names, not around ideas or money or culture which we would find much more interesting. Pretentious lighting and music and mirrors everywhere to create a poor catwalk effect. Would be good if you were extremely stoned maybe. Lots of trendy fashion students walking around copying down the spiels on the walls about how these designers revolutionised the design of clothes that 0.0001% of the population might buy if there wasn't a recession. Have these individuals really committed their lives to 'seeking every more demanding expressions of 'beauty'? There were lots of clothes that were either impossible to wear because they were too heavy or too big and some waterproof wedding dresses.

As per usual with the V & A, next door to the everywhere advertised special exhibition was a fascinating (and free) photography exhibition, 'Out of Japan'. Three bodies of work were featured: Felice Beato's hand-coloured prints of ancient Japanese culture and landscape, a series of disturbing and powerful black and whites of ravens by Masahisa Fukase and, best of all, Naoya Hatakeyama's 'Underground' project. Beneath Tokyo lies a massive disused canal network, empty of people, light or even animals. Hatakayama takes a tripod with a decent flash down there and lights up the tunnels and stagnant water to create magical colours and effect.

The rest of the museum is pretty good as well.

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