Tokyo Street Fashion At Honolulu Museum Of Art. Clothing, accessories, and street photography offer a frilly, colorful look at Japan’s current urban style makers.
In 1990s Tokyo, a style combining the kawaii (excruciatingly cute) of Hello Kitty culture and British new wave emerged in the streets, finding a particular home around the Harajuku train station. American pop star Gwen Stefani brought the fashion trend into the global mainstream when she introduced her Harajuku Girls backup singers and her LAMB design line. Thirty years on, the Honolulu Museum of Art looks at the current trends and far-reaching influence of Harajuku: Tokyo Street Fashion.
Harajuku: Tokyo Street Fashion is presented by Hawaiian Airlines. Additional support provided by hospitality sponsor THE MODERN HONOLULU and media sponsor Honolulu Magazine.
After two years of planning and research, textiles curator Sara Oka has organized a playful look at a whimsical world that has had a serious effect on fashion—influencing designers, merchandisers, and other industry leaders around the globe. Harajuku: Tokyo Street Fashion is a snapshot Harajuku’s alternative modes of dress, lifestyles and blends of cultures—resulting in a transitional world of fashion colliding with fantasy that continues to evolve.
Harajuku is a place for public gatherings, where teenagers congregate to meet with friends who dress in the latest crazes. A wide range of subcultures, some with clear distinctions has fragmented into smaller groups. Neighboring districts of Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro were also recognized as hot spots for specific genres. Select shops and small boutiques grew out of this hybrid of combining original handmade items and altered ready-made brands.
Oka has rounded up Harajuku’s distinct looks—Lolita, Mori Girl, Kawaii, Decora, and Fairy Kei—and presents them as complete outfits on mannequins, staged and accessorized by genre. The fashion tableaux are enhanced by street photos by museum staff photographer Shuzo Uemoto and videos of Visual Kei bands.
Lolita: The princess-like Lolita look channels a Victorian doll—with ruffled dress, a bonnet, ribbons, and flat shoes accessorized with a feminine handbag. A small umbrella is often hidden under a blonde wig. Highly influenced by such British cultural touchstones such as Alice in Wonderland, Lolita followers spawned the establishment of brands like Jane Marple, Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, and Angelic Pretty that are mainstays of this fashion genre. Darker variations include Gothic Lolita and Steampunk Lolita, which will also be included.
Mori Girl: “Mori” means forest, and this genre has its followers looking like they live in a sun-dappled glen with Bambi. They wear a natural, woodsy assortment of vintage earthy colors and layers, often integrating elements of crochet, knit and lace. Dolly Kei, an offshoot of the Mori Girl mode, incorporates the flavor of Eastern European folk costumes in jewel tones. Mori Girls rifle through vintage boutiques, second-hand stores, thrift shops and flea markets on the hunt for elements to create the battered, worn, yet elegant look.
Kawaii, Decora and Fairy Kei: These are another major aspect of Japanese culture encompassing entertainment, food, fashion, and toys that affected personal appearances and behavior. Kawaii means “cute” or “pretty,” while Decora, short for “decoration” is dominated by the use of pastels or bright colors in an array of hair clips and bows, in an excessive application of layering accessories including furry toys and plastic jewelry. Unicorns and rainbows are cherished motifs and, not surprising is the inclusion of trademarked American products such as Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony.
The streets of Tokyo, where millions of people intersect every day, provide a background for this intensified face-paced and ever-evolving progression of fashions and trends. By incorporating inspiration from other cultures remixed with those in Japan the resulting assemblages provide a multitude of derivations. The power of youth and members of a subculture of common values, attitudes and norms is credit to an innovative lifestyle of radical, outrageous and sometimes subversive attitudes. While some remain marginal, global awareness has increasingly multiplied, significantly altering the growing impact on designers, merchandisers, and other industry leaders by expanding their significance to Europe, the United States, South America and Asia, showcased in Harajuku: Tokyo Street Fashion.
Appearance by Tokyo street fashion star Minori. Nov 19, 10am-noon, in the exhibition.
Minori practices the art of shironuri, which means “painted in white,” a traditional style of makeup used by geishas and Kabuki actors. She is a key figure in Tokyo’s street fashion scene. She has appeared in Vogue and is regularly covered by the blog tokyofashion.com) and is featured in Harajuku: Tokyo Street Fashion. Visitors can meet Minori, dressed in her full street regalia, in the gallery.
Growing up in the country, Minori was struck by the beauty in nature, taking inspiration from the patterns on leaves, shapes of flowers, and grooves in the bark that has become her signature style in revolutionizing her application of shironuri. She creates her own fashion and coordinates her makeup which has become more than just a style, but has since evolved into a way of life.
Shironuri demonstration by Minori. Nov 20, 6-8pm, Honolulu Museum of Art School, FREE. Registration required: Call 532-8741.
At this free event, Minori will demonstrate how to apply shironuri on a model.