Chicagoans are pretty lucky lately because fashion exhibitions are becoming more plentiful in the Windy City. There’s a couple currently on exhibit, and the future holds more.
Today I want to tell you about Material Translations: Japanese Fashion from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC). Running through April 7 in the Ando Gallery, groundbreaking fashion from Japanese designers glow from behind glass.
The garments and accessories on exhibit are all taken from the Fashion Resource Center (FRC), a special collection of avant-garde and conceptual fashion for students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While a grad student, I worked in the FRC and was able to see most of these amazing creations in person. The unique thing about the FRC is that students do not need to make an appointment. They can walk right into the collection and examine the garments themselves. I’ve never come across another fashion collection that is as hands on as the FRC.
In the exhibition, however, the garments students normally get to touch are now mounted exquisitely in a glass case and lit with golden light. Visitors will see garments that radically changed what was considered fashion from the 1980s through the 2000s. For instance, Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons 1983 sack dress that “characterizes the aesthetic of poverty—concealing, not revealing the female form in muted color” and a sculptural Yohji Yamamoto’s 1991 red wool dress are just two of the innovative assortment on view. Other designers included in the show include Junya Watanabe, Issey Miyake, Jun Takahashi of Undercover, and Naoki Takizawa.
I was thrilled to see this exhibition and look forward to the AIC showing more fashion in its hallowed galleries. If you can’t get the the exhibition, there’s a great slideshow of these influential Japanese garments on TIME.com.
Address: Art Institute of Chicago, 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
Hours: Monday-Wednesday 10:30-5, Thursday 10:30-8, Friday-Sunday 10:30-5
Admission: adults $18, students and seniors $12, children under 14 and members free