Visiting Tokyo earlier this year I was lucky enough to have time to see two seminal Japanese exhibits. The first was a comprehensive exhibition of Japanese woodcuts that documented their history from the 1500s to the present.
The second was the opportunity to view Imperial Kimonos including a 12-layered kimono.
The combination of skill, artistry, craft and art with clothes as part of the ceremony of life were themes in both exhibitions. How clothes can reveal and obscure the body, the significance of textiles in how they interact with our bodies and day-to-day lives. The dexterity of the human hand in creating fabrics and prints. For me, these artifacts represented something important. That the act of creation should hold no time constraint for the process and dedication of creation is an important and significant, almost ritualistic aspect of creating.
In Tokyo itself, as one of the fastest 24/7 most technologically focused cities in the world, the integration of the aesthetic with the environment, sustainability, food, building, gardening is everywhere.The traditions of society, not only exist alongside the newest technologies and consumer products, but also inform their development. Somehow this heritage of dexterity, patience, analysis and creativity coupled with an ability to appropriate an idea and transform it has translated itself into contemporary textiles. Perhaps this explains why the textiles and fabrics of the great Japanese designers such as Yohji, Rei, Kenzo, Miyaki have been such an integral part of the clothing and identity of Japanese fashion designers?