‘Material Translations’: The Remarkable Influence of Japanese Fashion

A new exhibition documents how designers such as Rei Kawakubo and Issey Miyake revolutionized clothing

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The influences of Japanese fashion can be traced to every corner of the industry today, from Prada’s recent foot glove—a shoe that mimicked the silhouette and style of Japanese platform sandals—to Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Mini collection available at the mass retailer, Target. But the impact of Japanese designers really took root in the 1980s, when couturiers such as Rei Kawakubo and Issey Miyake revolutionized clothing with avant-garde creations that blurred the line between fashion and art. Some of the key pieces from this now-iconic period are on view as part of Material Translations: Japanese Fashion from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which runs through April 7. Herewith, a look at some of the exhibition’s highlights.

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