CLASH: Contemporary x Traditional

By Jo Phillips

In the fashion world collaborations between fashion designers are extremely common and in demand. To own these pieces of unique items or art forms are especially desired by all. However, collaborations between designers and fashion brands are much more rare. The creations from these collaborations not only are unique designs, but are also true inspiration. Artists are able to bring a traditional, individual style and feel, while the fashion designer is able to stay true to contemporary culture.

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One exciting collaboration which will be released in November 2015 is Issey Miyake x Ikko Tanaka. Issey Miyake, a brilliant fashion brand and Ikko Tanaka, an renowned graphic designer combine their passions to release a series of garments featuring motifs of works by Ikko Tanaka. The three masterpieces selected are: Nihon Buyo (1981), The 200th anniversary of Sharaku (1995), and Variations of Bold Symbols (1992).

Ikko Tanaka, was born in the ancient city of Nara, where the Japanese culture gestated and he had to balance many things in his work: the traditional, the modern, what was truly Japanese and what was global. Mirroring his work, he always looked to tradition while enjoying global conversation.

Issey Miyake was born in Hiroshima, Japan. He was known to use new technology to create innovative textiles with both traditional Eastern and Contemporary Western influences for his clothing lines.

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The designs of gorgeous Geishas and historic Japanese men, made out of different coloured squares, rectangles and diagonals, deliver traditional Japanese prototypes but in a contemporary mode. Also, the geometrical composition is based on strong shapes and colours and it combines Japanese traditional beauty with western rationalism. The contemporary design of clothing, the dresses, coats, shoes, bags, infused with traditional work originally showed in previous artwork and exhibitions is truly inspirational.

The infusion between contemporary and traditional is so important that there was an exhibition in Japan called “Future Beauty” which showcased contemporary Japanese fashion at The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto. This exhibition provided a comprehensive picture of the development of the fashion design in this country, including Issey Miyake’s Pleats Please. “Future Beauty” shows the hope that the threads of old and new will continue to be woven to create more exciting designs in the near future.

The infusion between traditional and contemporary has also been incorporated into other collaborations in the fashion world. Tom Sachs x Nike created the NikeCRAFT 2012 line, which boasted original traditional designs such as the “Mars Yard Shoe”. This collaboration’s guided principles were inspired 153 years later by John Ruskin’s Seven Lamps of Architecture from May 1849.

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Additionally the Olaf Breuning x Bally collaboration captures the essence of traditional and contemporary. The contemporary artist Olaf Breuning was inspired by the late Andy Warhol’s legendary Marilyn Monroe portraits (shown above). With his Marilyn inspiration, Breuning produced a sequence of still life’s featuring models coated in black paint and given the Warhol treatment of bright pop-coloured faces and hair (shown below). Bruening’s Marilyns, along with vintage Bally advertising posters, were the starting points for the collection BallyLove #2 (also shown below). 

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Breuning explained “It seems so many great things are already done in the past, and as a contemporary artist, it is more and more difficult to be a pioneer. I always loved Andy’s Marilyns and at that time I had not a great ‘new’ idea, and thought I want to honor them in my own language,”