The Japanese Revolution in Paris Fashion

The Japanese Revolution in Paris Fashion

The Japanese Revolution in Paris Fashion

The Japanese Revolution in Paris Fashion

Synopsis

Despite recent challenges from New York, London and Milan, Paris is renowned as the greatest fashion capital in the world. Its distinctive categorization of haute couture, demi-couture, and prt--porter reflects a highly structured and tightly controlled system that non-western designers have had difficulty penetrating. Yet a number of the most influential Japanese designers have broken into this scene and made a major impact. How?Paris couturiers and designers operate a gate-keeping system that is not only exclusive and rigorous but highly demanding. But, Kawamura asks, does the system facilitate or inhibit new forms of creativity? She shows how traditional French fashion has been both disturbed and strengthened by the addition of outside forces such as Kenzo Takada, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo and Hanae Mori. At the same time she considers many other key questions the contemporary fashion industry should be asking itself. Has it, for example, become primarily preoccupied with the commercial projection of product images rather than with the clothing itself? And what direction will French fashion take without Saint Laurent, Miyake and Kenzo?This insightful book provides the first in-depth study of the Japanese revolution in Paris fashion and raises provocative questions for the future of the industry.

Excerpt

Clothing and fashion are separate concepts although they are frequently used interchangeably. Both concepts have different sociological consequences. Specific styles are often the focus of fashion analysis, but the illustration of particular fashions does not identify the basic nature of fashion per se (Lang and Lang 1961: 465) because fashion has little to do with clothing. Clothing is a material production while fashion is a symbolic production. Clothing is tangible while fashion is intangible. Clothing is a necessity while fashion is an excess. Clothing has a utility function while fashion has a status function. Clothing is found in any society or culture where people clothe themselves while fashion must be institutionally constructed and culturally diffused. A fashion system operates to convert clothing into fashion that has a symbolic value and is manifested through clothing. Fashion is not created in a vacuum but exists in a specific cultural and organizational context.

Rouse (1989) points out that for a particular style of clothing to become fashion, it has to be worn by some people and then acknowledged to be a fashion. For instance, any apparel manufacturer can produce a white shirt, and many people wear white shirts, but they are not a fashion. These white shirts have to be recognized as ‘the latest style’. How are they recognized as such? Approaching fashion from a systemic perspective will explain how clothing may become fashionable. My research attempts to link structural processes in the production of fashion to the variety of styles of clothing which are produced by particular designers and legitimated by different institutions in the system.

This book treats fashion as a system of institutions, organizations, groups, individuals, events and practices that contributes to the making of fashion as a belief supported by these external factors. I argue that the structural nature of the system affects the legitimation process of designers' creativity and therefore, the inclusion and exclusion of foreign designers in and from the system. My study is a macrosociological analysis of the social organization of fashion and a micro-interactionist analysis of designers using Japanese . . .

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