Hi! Fashion exhibition brings Irish and Japanese design together

Story by John Donohoe

Wednesday, 29th November, 2017 4:47pm

Hi! Fashion exhibition brings Irish and Japanese design together

An exciting exhibition 'Hi! Fashion' which explores and celebrates fashion design from Ireland and Japan hosted by the OPW, commissioned by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) and curated by Gemma A Williams will open in Farmleigh Gallery on Friday 1st December. Showcasing garments from ground-breaking fashion designers spanning six decades, the exhibition celebrates the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Japan. 
Hosted by the OPW in partnership with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, Hi! Fashion will feature works including a gown from the first collection by celebrated Irish designer Sybil Connolly who launched her couture line in 1957, and whose career in Ireland was thanks to Sheila Plunkett, Lady Dunsany, who promoted her at Dunsany Castle fashion shows. It also presents the work of other internationally renowned Irish designers including John Rocha, recognised as one of this country’s best designers, Lainey Keogh who transformed the face of Irish knitwear and Úna Burke whose designs have been worn by Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Daphne Guinness amongst others. The exhibition will also include the work of Japanese visionary Issey Miyake, master tailor Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons who is responsible for dramatically changing what we think of as fashion.  Garments have been sourced globally from museum collections, designer archives and collectors as well as newly created pieces.
Gemma A Williams commented: “Bringing these two islands together, this exhibition illustrates not only the global language of fashion but also reveals how it is underpinned by the fusion of concept and craft which is distilled by the intimate nature of individual approach and process. As a curator, I love the idea of experimenting with context and environment to create a new, abstract narrative from fashion’s forms.” 
Maurice Buckley Chairman of the OPW said:  “We are delighted to partner with the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland and this exhibition provides an Irish audience with the opportunity of seeing the unique works of master designers such as Kansai Yamamoto, designer of David Bowie’s costumes during the 1970s and milliner Maiko Takeda, favoured by the singer Björk. This exhibition is visually stunning and will immerse visitors into the fashion worlds of both Japan and Ireland and provide a window into some of the icons of popular culture”.
Karen Hennessy, chief executive of DCCoI said: “Placing Irish work within an international context allows us to consider the similarities and differences of processes and materials between Ireland and other countries. We are delighted to have commissioned this new exhibition to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Irish and Japanese diplomatic relations and to draw together the threads of the textile and cultural connections between these two nations, providing different perspectives and sparking new conversations among visitors.”
Curated by Williams and designed in collaboration with award-winning Irish design studio ROJI, Hi! Fashion is open at Farmleigh Gallery from 1st December 2017 and will run until 29th April 2018.
Gemma A Williams is an Irish-born fashion curator and writer living in London. A graduate of London College of Fashion, Williams has worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the British Council, the Modemuseum, Antwerp and Irish Design 2015. Her practice focuses on global emerging markets and fashion tourism. In 2015, she authored Fashion China, an illustrated look at China’s contemporary fashion scene, published by Thames & Hudson. She contributes to Business of Fashion, Now Fashion, Jing Daily and Vogue Italia as well as consults to Shanghai Fashion Week. www.fashionnarratives.com @Gemmacurates

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