Japan and the Transformation of Haute-Couture
In this paper, I have striven to cover the main changes in haute couture during the 20th century, with an emphasis on the Japanese designers who arrived on the scene in the 1970s and 1980s. It divides into 2 parts: The first provides an overview of how history in fashion changed in accordance to social changes and industrial revolutions across the globe via an overview of the main designers. The second contains an analysis of Japanese designers and how they, of all people, were able to save haute couture from the devastating end that seemed unavoidable. My purpose has been to highlight the rejuvenating effect the fresh inputs with regard to fabric, cutting, and drapery had, especially when combined with a very different ethos both for clothes and the wearer of clothes. The paper show the resilience of, but also the gradual retreat from haute couture during the 20th century, followed by the impact of such designers as Yamamoto Yohji, Issey Miyake, and Rei Kawakubo.
Nowadays, it is said that haute couture is left for dead, and the luxury market is a fantasy of the past. Especially when the target for fashion broke away from traditional roles and became something for teenagers who were concerned with ‘now’, the whole business model was shaken. However, with the appearance of designers with Japanese origin, it has all changed: they changed haute couture from the ‘rendezvous with the past’ into ‘new discoveries that questions standardized concepts of fashion and gender’. Their designs are often labeled as ‘radical’ and ‘unpredictable’, but what distinguishes them from other European ‘radical’ designers is that they are also very ‘functional’ and ‘sensational’. This is an advantage of the Japanese designers, for it is from their cultural background that such inspirations are born, and the breakdown of the barrier between design and commodities is a necessary means of survival in this ‘teenage’ era.
While they may not have completely saved haute couture, Japanese designers have distinguished themselves in the fashion industry as innovators and saviors who have changed the traditional system into something of this era. In addition, with Tokyo becoming one of the international fashion capitals with its enormous numbers of business enterprises and events, the Japanese fashion industry itself is sure to grow and become one of the leaders of the world.