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Pamela Roskin

(b Tokyo, Oct 11, 1942).

Japanese fashion designer. Rei Kawakubo, the fashion designer and creator of Comme des Garçons (Like Some Boys), is best known for her often oversized, asymmetrical, monochromatic and deliberately imperfect clothing (see fig.).

Born during World War II, Kawakubo was the oldest of three children. She described her childhood years as comfortable and normal even though her parents divorced, which was unusual in post-war Japan. Her father was an administrator at Keio University, a prestigious college in Tokyo, and her mother taught English at a local high school. In 1964 Kawakubo graduated from Keio University with a degree in aesthetics that included coursework in Asian and Western art. That same year, Japan hosted the Olympics, signalling that the postwar reconstruction period was over. The boom years that followed allowed such designers as Kawakubo, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto to flourish.

After graduating, Kawakubo moved to Harajuko, a bohemian neighbourhood in Tokyo. Although she herself did not adopt an alternative lifestyle, she was attracted to her neighbours’ rejection of traditional values. Her first job was in the advertising department of Asahi Kasei, a textile manufacturer. She said of those early career years that she was not thinking of a job in fashion but rather was striving towards self-sufficiency, a goal she believed every woman should attempt and a driving philosophy behind her designs....

Article

Joan Kee

[Kim Sooja; Kim Soo-ja; Kim Soo Ja]

(b Daegu, April 24, 1957).

Korean mixed-media artist, active also in the USA. Kim studied painting at Hongik University, Seoul, graduating in 1984. That same year she received a scholarship to study art at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. During the mid-1980s Kim became interested in employing commonly used Korean textiles in her work. Distinctively patterned and coloured, the textiles offered different formal possibilities, and early works featured various swathes cut and sewn together to form large, continuous surfaces. In 1992 Kim was awarded a residency as part of the International Studio Program at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in New York. Inspired by the objects collected in her studio, Kim began to use the figure of the bottari, wrapped bundles used in Korea for the easy transport of goods, in installations such as Deductive Object (1994). She also began to experiment with performance and interactive works. In Sewing Into Walking...

Article

Mai Vu

(b Hiroshima, April 22, 1938).

Japanese fashion designer, active in Tokyo and Paris (see fig.). For his Autumn/Winter 1998 collection, Issey Miyake sent all his models down the Paris catwalk in a single stream of red, knitted tubing. Unlike the typical fashion show where the season’s look is unveiled in its finalized form, Miyake’s show was a presentation of his process. In collaboration with designer Dai Fujiwara, Miyake developed a radical approach to fashion design. Utilizing technological advances in fibre, fabric and computer science, he created a system to manufacture individual garments from a single thread. The method, known as A-POC, an acronym for ‘A Piece of Cloth’, is Miyake’s solution to the complicated manufacturing methods of traditional cut-and-sew garments.

Miyake was born in Hiroshima 1938 and witnessed the destruction and devastation of his country during World War II, but also saw its rise and redemption in the following years. This strength imbued in him allowed his artistry and discipline to grow. In ...

Article

Britta Erickson

(b Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, Nov 27, 1961).

Chinese installation artist. Lin studied art at Capital Normal University, Beijing in 1984. In 1987 she and her husband, the video artist Wang Gongxin (b 1960), moved to New York where, in 1989, she took courses at the Art Students League. In 1995 they returned to Beijing, where the dearth of venues receptive to mixed-media installation art led the couple to stage exhibitions in their home. Lin became one of the most notable Chinese artists creating mixed-media installation art, then a fledgling format in China. In 2001 Lin and Wang established China’s first public venue dedicated to new media art, Loft New Media Art Center, in Beijing.

1995 marked a breakthrough for Lin when she began working with white cotton thread. Her first major work in this signature material, The Proliferation of Thread-Winding (1995; for illustration see 1998 exh. cat.) was exhibited in her home. Lin’s best-known early work, ...

Article

Pamela Roskin

(b Yokohama, Oct 3, 1943).

Japanese fashion designer ( see fig. ). Yamamoto’s influential designs combined traditional Japanese silhouettes with notions of architectural forms and impeccable tailoring. The collections from the designer’s early years were often in dark, muted colours and featured unstructured oversized layers that evoked the uncut philosophy of the Japanese kimono. Later in his career, he incorporated splashes of bright colour into his pieces.

Yamamoto’s father, a soldier, died in World War II. His mother was a seamstress. Yamamoto received a degree in law in 1966 before graduating in 1969 from the Bunkafukuso Gakuin, a prestigious Tokyo fashion school. That same year he won two fashion design awards, the So-en and Endo. He then lived in Paris for two years where he became familiar with European ideals in fashion. The juxtaposition of high style amidst the French student riots, anti-war protests and the women’s rights movement had a profound effect on his work. In an interview with ...