A successful exhibition of works by Christian Dior opens in Tokyo this week, focusing on the French designer’s fascination with Japan and the country’s influence on his pieces.
Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams comes to Japan after drawing huge crowds in Paris, London and New York.
The exhibition, which opens on Wednesday, features 350 haute couture dresses – including dresses inspired by Japan – that are displayed in settings designed to pay tribute to Japanese culture.
Architect Shohei Shigematsu created structures including a space covered with an undulating three-dimensional facade made of translucent traditional material washy Paper pasted over wooden frame.
“When Dior makes a skirt, there’s a structure and then the fabric is laid over it,” he told AFP. “I was asked to create a traditional Japanese structure, so I thought of shoji screens, for example, which have a wooden structure and are covered with paper.”
Each section features a different interior design designed to showcase different parts of Japanese culture.
“There is an area inspired by a neat tatami room separated by sliding doors. But not everything in Japan is simple and minimal,” he said. “We have different designs like Japanese gardens and eye-catching kimonos. I wanted to show the sides of Japan that people don’t know.”
The House of Dior first presented a show in Japan in 1953, and the designer had a well-known fascination with the country.
“Dior had great respect for traditional Japanese culture and he wrote about it in his memoirs,” curator Florence Muller told AFP. “I think there is a mutual fascination between France and Japan.”
From the 1950s, Dior also collaborated with Japanese companies, giving them the rights to adapt and reproduce Dior looks to suit local tastes.
As a sign of the brand’s popularity, Japan’s former Empress Michiko chose a Dior dress made from Japanese textiles when she married then-Prince Akihito in 1959.
The Tokyo show, which runs through May 28, features archival pieces as well as work by more recent creative directors and features several Japanese-inspired items.
Among them is a coat by John Galliano with “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa” printed emblazoned on the base of his full skirt, and robes held together with Japanese obi-style belts by Raf Simons.
Dior’s austere jacket dress, named “Rashomon” – the name of a Japanese novel and film directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa – is also on display.
“This exhibition shows the mutual respect between Japan and France in their approach to crafts, fashion, design and art,” said Shigematsu.
© 2022 AFP