Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Japanese Avant-Garde Fashion at the Textile Museum

I had a chance to see 35 articles of Japanese avant-garde fashion from the collection of Mary Baskett at the Textile Museum a couple of weeks ago. The weekend symposium began with a reception a Friday night, which I missed, because it was rainy, cold, and by 7:30 I was fried. Saturday's session was held at the Phillips Collection, one of my favorite art galleries in DC. The theme was from "Kimono to Couture: the Evolution of Japanese Fashion.” The Museum brought in experts to speak about the kimono in early Japanese history (which I missed because there was bike race through NW Washington which brought traffic to a standstill. Many of us were late.); the geisha influence on kimono fashion; the modern kimono; Japanese avant-garde fashion; Japanese youth in fashion subcultures; and Japanese textiles, in which the speaker described a number of ways to create textiles. I wish they would give classes on the latter, especially shibori.

The Sunday session began with a guided tour of Japanese textiles developed by Nuno, a Tokyo-based corporation. It included fabrics created with stainless steel thread, some felted pieces, and some that were hand-embroidered.

ETA: You can click on any of the images for a larger view.


Nuno Stainless Steel Fabric

Then Ms. Baskett conducted a guided of her garments. I know it’s lame to scan the exhibit pamphlet as I have below (and I hope the Textile Museum doesn’t mind, I’m not affiliated with them), but I took few photos and they’re not great. I dutifully left my camera in my handbag as we were not supposed to take photos, but when Ms. Baskett posed for a few shots, everyone whipped out camera phones. It was like we all had our hands on our photographic equipment just waiting for a chance…

I won’t go into detail; the pamphlet covers it all. Most of the garments were designs by Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, and Rei Kawakubo, designer and owner of Comme des Garcons. It’s an entrancing collection that really showed the genius of these designers.

Ms. Basket is amazing too. She is a Japanese art historian, who was a curator at the Cincinnati Art Museum, then opened the Mary Baskett Gallery in 1977, which features contemporary Japanese artists. The pieces in the collection are part of her wardrobe; she wears them everyday.

You can view larger images here.

Mary Baskett in front of Rei Kawakubo outfit

Mary Baskett in front of Rei Kawakubo exhibit

Basket 1

Basket 2

Basket 3

Basket 4

Basket 5

If you missed the symposium, the Textile Museum will conduct some evening lectures early next year.


  1. Those pieces are like works of art. How beautiful!

  2. Ava! I just saw your comment on my new blog! I have been wondering about you. I haven't been updating Ravelry much lately--other than baby gifts and charity knits I didn't knit much last year. Seeing this post, I remember that you are in DC--I wish I had thought of that; I went for Thanksgiving and of course went to this exhibit! I might be back one weekend late in the month or next month--if so, we should meet. I want to see the Terra Cotta Warriors, so I need to go soon. Good to be back in touch!

  3. thank you for scanning the pamphlet, otherwise i'd never have seen this work!

  4. Thank you for posting these gorgeous pictures. I'm just starting to try japanese knitting patterns and love the design sensibility of the pieces you've got here.



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