RISE OF THE JAPANESE DESIGNER



Oriental designs had appealed to Western consumers since the beginning of trade between the two regions. But it was only in the 1960s that a Japanese-born designer, Kenzo Takada (1940–), first found success with his own designs in Paris, France. By the 1980s Japanese designers Rei Kawakubo (1942–), Issey Miyake (1938–), and Yohji Yamamoto (1943–) dazzled the West with their clothing. Their designs were futuristic and defied convention; their garments were often elaborately constructed, with odd panels, uneven hems and, in the famous words of Kawakubo, came in "black, black, black." Their clothes were quickly adopted by style-conscious Japanese youth and then found success among Europe's more daring trendsetters.

The Japanese trio enjoyed strong worldwide sales for their lines for many years. Their styles strongly influenced other fashion designers, as well as musicians and artists, but never achieved mainstream success. By 1984 many mass-market apparel makers were copying some of their unusual design elements, especially the oversized look, for the younger market. The largest impact the Japanese designers had on mainstream fashion was to make black the most popular color for clothing for much of the late 1980s and early 1990s.



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