Those who make it a point to know about such things tell us that high fashion, this fall, is all about architecture. At New York Fashion Week, Diane von Furstenberg stole from Gaudi for inspiration, Shelly Steffee mooched off Zaha Hadid, and Derek Lam copped Frank Gehry. This couture moment recalls the 1980s, when a group of Japanese designers created a sensation in Paris with avant-garde constructions that looked like fabric origami, folded and sculpted in ways that had very little relation to the actual shape of the human body. Twenty-one of these fashion masterpieces appear in the exhibit "Stylized Sculpture: Contemporary Japanese Fashion from the Kyoto Costume Institute," which features clothing from the institute displayed on mannequins alongside photographs by Hiroshi Sugimoto. A dress from Rei Kawakubo's 1986 "lumpy" Comme des Garçons collection shares the catwalk with Yohji Yamamoto's sweeping teepeelike wool felt gown from a decade later. Tao Kurihara's 2007 plumped-out frock of paper, silk knit, and cotton complements Junya Watanabe's accordion dress from 1999. The gowns by Issey Miyake, whose clothing has been shown in art museums since the early '80s, look like beautifully pleated black columns. The Asian Art Museum has smartly decided to let the clothing and photos speak for themselves, minimally lit and with no wall text.
Oct. 23-Jan. 6, 2007