Friday, 2 June 2017
That time I went Across Japan.
Last Sunday, May 29th, Bert and I traveled into the wilds of Limburg to go to Hasselt (if you don’t know the area, trust you me, it is not that easy to get around in!) to visit Across Japan at the local fashion museum.
Handy tip: go to exhibitions in Hasselt on a Sunday and park at the Kolonel Dusartplein. It’s within walking distance of pretty much everywhere in town. Check if there isn’t anything going on, on the square though first, else that free parking area is definitely out also.
Anyway: to the expo!
Generally speaking, I really like the Hasselt fashion museum.
The staff is always friendly and the exhibitions I’ve seen there were always worth the trip. I especially loved Jazz Age, which was on last year, which I reviewed for The Gatehouse.
So naturally, when Across Japan was announced, I wanted to see it.
It has been on for a while (March 4th) before I managed to finally go, but it’s still on ‘till September 2nd, so it’s not like I left it late to visit either.
I have to say that after absolute years of seeing Japanese fashion styles ridiculed in Belgian press (especially looking at you Knack and Elle) and recently seeing all sorts of main stream media posts proclaiming that Japanese street fashion is dead (seriously, does no one look at Tokyo Fashion anymore?!), I didn’t exactly have very high expectations.
It’s to say, I didn’t expect more ridicule and disrespect, because that is simply not the style of the Hasselt fashion museum, but I didn’t expect there to be a ton of different styles either. And especially not a ton of street styles.
I was right about that. But that was alright, because they did a really nice job setting up some really cool pieces and to not only present outfits from the past decades, but also to really show the historical influence of Japanese fashion and culture on Western fashion starting in the 1920s.
I loved that so many pieces on display reminded me of the Fruits and Fresh Fruits (the books, not the magazine) era.
They weren't exactly like what you see in the books, but they reminded me of those looks (I really do love those books!).
But I found it strange that there was nothing (or if there was I completely missed it) by W< on display.
The most represented Japanese designer was definitely Rei Kawakubo.
Which is great for the fans of her work, and for the people that can’t make it to the big expo of her work in New York.
My only real gripe is, that whilst their approach to street fashion was very respectful, they didn’t get it right. They talked about (gothic) lolita and kawaii, but the only representation that could befit the style was this piece by John Galliano for Dior.
Don’t get me wrong, this is an amazing piece.
But it is not lolita. Not even sweet lolita.
Vintage style, yes, absolutely. Lolita, no.
Which leaves me to wonder: how the bloody heck do they manage to get it wrong time and again? I have written countless fashion articles for BCM, and whilst I most certainly don’t know all, I found it easy enough to find accurate information online, or to find people online that were able to help me write an article that at least managed to properly represent the style.
So I can’t phantom for the life of me why these professionals don’t manage the same thing.
Especially not with above mentioned Tokyo Fashion around.
I can totally imagine they can’t find BCM, but everyone remotely interested in Japanese Fashion, surely, knows about Tokyo Fashion?
That aside, I’m really glad I saw the exhibition. It had a lot of really cool pieces, the set-up was nice.
They approached it with a lot of respect for the Japanese design traditions, did their very best to explain everything (and in most parts, they did get it right!) and I really liked how they added the historical background, rather than just setting up a bunch of outfits and saying “look, fashion by Japanese people vs Western fashion inspired by Japanese people”.
It wasn’t the best expo by them I’ve seen, that is still Jazz Age, but it was good to see it, regardless.
I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re into Japanese street fashion, but I would recommend it if you are into designers like Rei Kawakubo and high fashion in general.
Also good to know: Across Japan is part of the Yokoso festival for the 25th anniversary of the Hasselt Japanese garden. You can find the full program of that here.
I did write a proper review for the next edition of BCM, which will be out early July. For those interested in reading me waffle more about this expo :).
For more photos, click here to see my flickr set of Across Japan.
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