The style of Japanese traditional dress, known as kimono, is said to change over time to reflect the trends of society. If the kimono exhibition at Page One cafe is representative of Japanese culture at the moment, then the unconventional designs illustrate a period of creative ambition in society.
The small selection of kimonos, accessories, prints and documentary films combines the work of 13 individuals. The project began last May when graduates from the Mode Gakuen fashion and art institute in Japan formed The Creators Project Tokyo (TCP). The Creators include a graphic designer, a music composer, and a film editor in addition to hair, makeup and clothing stylists. Their, "project," as they referred to it, is an experiment among friends.
For their first venture, they teamed up with Japanese designer Shizuko Iyobe, who is known for her slightly avant-garde, yet well-received designs in the fashion industry.
Her work bares little resemblance to the customary patterns of a kimono, but each is made using vintage material. Her decision to make new clothing from old, traditional patterns, is similar to the goal of The Creators: creating something original from within the existing fields of art and fashion, said Masaharu Tezuka, a Mode Gakuen instructor accompanying the group in Taiwan.
The exhibition blends into the coffee shop decor and could be overlooked by visitors. What it lacks in size, however, it makes up for in creativity. Displayed among the Japanese-style tables and chairs, are two kimonos and a collection of broaches, buttons and picture frames made from kimono material. In the center of the room is a projection screen playing one of two films, either a runway show of Iyobe's designs or a piece introducing the cast and crew of the project.
Placed around the cafe are six large vertical boards with digitally modified photos of TCP members and Iyobe's kimonos. The graphic design of the posters together with the eccentric hair, makeup and clothing styles make the models resemble Japanese comic characters.
TCP member Takeyasu Kobayashi composed the film soundtrack, along with the music playing in the cafe. An electronica mix with samples of a female vocalist, the music bares a resemblance to the American band Land of the Loops.
The exhibition might be mistaken as a sample sell by local designers. Nothing, however, is for sale and the project is not for profit.
"Our purpose isn't to sell these items to the public, it is to sell an idea. This project is collaboration among artists in fashion and other medias. We want to give an example of the joint ventures being explored in Japan right now," Tezuka said.
Although it's not a commercial enterprise, it does read like an advertisement for the Mode Gakuen institute, or its Taipei counterpart that is scheduled to open in the distant future. In this case, a little self-promotion is not a bad thing, considering there is no institute like it in Taiwan. Likewise, for budding artists and designers, it provides ideas for potential projects. The fusing of graphic design, music composition and filmmaking is not uncommon, but the inclusion of makeup, clothing and hair design to form an art exhibition is unique and something that should be explored more often.
Today at 2:30pm, five members of the project will be giving a hair, makeup and clothing demonstration in the cafe followed by a short discussion.