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Japanese fashion designers changed western fashion in the early 80's. After establishing a solid career in Japan, they came to conquer Paris. And they really did. On that note, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is hosting an exhibition named Future Beauty: Avant-Garde Japanese Fashion from November 16 until January 26, 2014. The exhibition features over 100 dresses by renowned Japanese designers such as Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons) and Yohji Yamamoto.
Yohji Yamamoto surprised everyone in 1981 with what the Japanese press had named the "black crow" look, emphasized by the use of a single color. Italian fashion editor Carla Sozzani described Yamamoto's work as “an emotional shock” when she saw it for the first time. "Everything was all Mugler and Montana, kind of big shoulders and a lot of makeup and high heels, so Yohji’s clothes were like a revolution.”
Western fashion was flawless, dresses were colorful, fitted and very detailed. Japanese fashion designers came to challenge that perception of beauty and gender, changing it forever. They introduced the concept of androgyny and minimalism, with simple, almost monastic lines. Monochromatic schemes, asymmetries, loose fits with extreme proportions and intentional flaws became a must.
In 1983, Yamamoto and Kawakubo were the toast of Paris, with their fashion shows being the most difficult to get in. The press named them "the monk and the nun", emphasizing on the simplicity of their black outfits. By the end of the 80's, people were embracing the style changes. Wearing black was a trend and Yamamoto was intensively copied. Japanese minimalism was no longer eared.