With the arrival in Mexico of the retrospective art exhibition of one of the most important Japanese artists of our time: Infinite Obsession of Yayoi Kusama , I started thinking about great personalities of fashion, art and Japanese architecture. Many say Japan lacks of design, as an example just look for their flag, a red dot in the center of a white rectangle. What they don´t know is that it is more than a dot, is a sign that Japan is "the land of the rising sun." Land that gave birth to great artists such as Kenzo Takada , Yohji Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe , Rei Kawakubo , Takashi Murakami, Toyo Ito, among others ...
One of the most important visual artists in Japan and the reason why I decided to write this entry for the blog.
Her nearly six decades of experience, starts with her solo exhibitions, at the age of 23 years. After crossing several time zones, she moved to New York. Leaving aside her paintings and sculpture, she chooses a series of happenings, in which she painted nude participants with colored dots.
She was pioneer of pop art and minimalist art, becoming influence to artists like Andy Warhol and Swedish sculptor, Claes Oldenburg
In 1968, Kusama established Kusama Fashion Company Ltd., and began selling avantgarde fashion in the "Kusama Corner" at Bloomingdales. In 2009, Kusama designed a handbag-shaped cell phone entitled Handbag for Space Travel, My Doggie Ring-Ring, a pink dotted phone in accompanying dog-shaped holder, and a red and white dotted phone inside a mirrored, dotted box dubbed Dots Obsession, Full Happiness With Dots, for Japanese mobile communication giant KDDI Corporation´s "iida" Brand. Each phone was limited to 1000 pieces. In 2011, Kusama created artwork for six limited-edition lipglosses from Lancôme
In 2013, she launched, in collaboration with the French fashion house Louis Vuitton, the "Infinity Dots" collection, including leather goods, ready-to-wear, accessories, shoes, watches, and jewelry, which are now considered collector's items. This collaboration, brig her back into the eye of the expectators and the opportunity to share her vision of the world.
In late 2013 she produced a series of photographs for W Magazine, using George Clooney as her model, all covered in Polka dots, Kusama´s trademark.
Since 1977, she in 1977 she voluntarily admitted herself into a psychiatric hospital where she has remained ever since. Nowadays, at the age of 80, she keeps on producing art and literary works, including poems, novels and “Infinity Nets”, her autobiography.
“I think I will be able to, in the end, rise above the clouds and climb the stairs to heaven, and I will look down on my beautiful life.” –Yayoi Kusama
Before the collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Yayoi, we must mention the one between Takashi Murakami and Vuitton, which dates back to the year 2003 when Marc Jacobs, creative director of the brand, suggested to work hand in hand. He developed incredible designs, doing refresh to the old house of leather goods, founded in 1854, and his monogram, shifting Louis Vuitton´s monochromatic logo to a world of fantasy and color.
A.k.a, Mr.DOB, a kind of alter ego, Murakami also attracted the attention of Kanye West who entrusted him the art of his album Graduation
In 2011 he designed Google´s doodles for summer and winter solstice for the northern and south hemispheres respectively
And last but not least, he is the owner of Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., a company dedicated to the support and representation of emerging artists. In April 2013, he premiered his first feature film: Jellyfish Eyes
Another artist that caught my eye, was Yohji Yamamoto, who in addition to his Bachelor of Laws, he is an outstanding designer of the boom of hip Japanese designers, who in conjunction with with fellow Japanese avant-garde fashion designer like Kenzo Takada, and Rei Kawakubo, of whom we´ll talk about later, revolutionized the Parisian fashion scene in the 80s.
His talent led him to receive a pair of awards and recognitions, such as the Legion of Honor by the French government, making him the first Japanese to receive it.
Despite his elite credentials, Yamamoto has expanded its business exponentially. Now has more than 333 outlets worldwide, an unprecedented collaboration with Adidas (Y-3), five fragrances and casual collections, Y's Women (established 1973) and Y's for men (1971). "Juste des vêtements", was his first major solo exhibition, held in 2005 at the "Musée de la Mode de Paris". As if that were not enough, Yamamoto is also a Karate Black belt, and the president of Karatenomichi World Federation (KWF) an elite international non-profit karate organisation with its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.
Another Japanese designer of the Parisian fashion scene in the 80s, is Kenzo Takada, world-renowned for the vibrant colors and the unpredictable patterns of his looks.
In 1993, the LVMH group acquired the company and designated Italian designer Antonio Marras, as the head of Kenzo. He occupied this position for almost ten seasons until the creators of the brand Opening Ceremony-a multi brand store which also had its own designs opened in New York in 2002, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, were appointed by LVMH to try to revitalize it. The creative duo, friends since childhood, achieved in just two seasons, the miracle of returning his prêt-à-porter to the sidewalks of cities worldwide, Kenzo designs convert a reference to any thoughtful person to trends and return to its core brand founded by Takada.
Along with the duo of the aforementioned Japanese designers, Rei Kawakubo deserves a special mention. In 1973, she created her first fashion line and early in the 80's, she decided to make the leap to the West and went to Paris. The arrival of Comme des Garçons to The City of Light, was celebrated as an intellectualized and intense fashion. Dark and reflective. Deep black and meaningful. One of those trends that you either love it or hate it. "Hiroshima chic" some critics called it.
She re-invented the concept of pop-up stores or "guerrilla stores'' in hip, yet-to-be-gentrified areas in cities around the world, including Mexico City. The shops, which are installed in raw urban spaces, where you can find ''seasonless'' merchandise drawn from current and past collections.
Here in Mexico we had (or have) the fortune of having one of these guerrilla stores, located on the top floor of HEADQUARTER (Colima 244, Colonia Roma)
You can also find her designs on Common People (Emilio Castelar # 149 in Polanco)
Sheltered by Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, as well as other fashion designers have flourished and have made their own way.
Watanabe graduated from Bunka Fashion College in 1984, and immediately joined "Comme des Garcons" as a pattern cutter. In 1987 he created the design of his own line "Tricot". In 1992 he presented his first collection, a year later, he was among the big names in fashion at Paris Fashion Week.
Nowadays, although he designs under his own name, he is still working for "Comme des Garçons".
Japanese design it is not limited only to the world of fashion. In the field of architecture, Japan is the country that most times it has been awarded the Pritzker Prize, the highest recognition in this discipline
This year the award went to Shigeru Ban, pioneer in the implementation of the cardboard as a construction material. Author of projects such as the Pompidou Center Metz in France and Cardboard Cathedral in New Zealand.
Previously the award was received by architect Toyō Itō, considered one of the most innovative and influential architects. His works includes The Hotel Porta Fira in Barcelona, The World Games Stadium in Taiwan, Torre Realia BCN, Sendai Mediatheque building, Taiwan International Airport.
Another winner of the Pritzker Prize, is the architect Kazuyo Sejima. In 2010, she starts working in the studio of Toyō Itō. Along with Ryue Nishizawa, she founded the architectural firm SANAA (Sejima + Nishizawa and Associates). Among her works includes the New Museum in New York, the first SANAA project built in this city.