The Tokyo exhibition shows Dior’s passion for Japan

A hit exhibition showcasing Christian Dior’s work opens in Tokyo this week focusing on the French designer’s fascination with Japan and the country’s influence on his works.

“Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” arrives in Japan after drawing huge crowds in Paris, London and New York.

Opening Wednesday, the exhibit features 350 haute couture dresses — including Japan-inspired dresses displayed in settings meant to pay tribute to Japanese culture.

Architect Shohei Shigematsu created structures including a room covered with an undulating three-dimensional facade constructed from translucent traditional washi paper pasted over wooden frames.

– When Dior makes a skirt, there is a structure and then the fabric is placed on top of it, he told AFP.

“I was asked to create a Japanese traditional structure, so I thought of, for example, the shoji screens which have a wooden structure and are covered with paper.”

Each section has a different interior design intended to display different parts of Japanese culture.

“It’s a section inspired by a neat tatami room separated by sliding doors. But not everything in Japan is simple and minimal,” he said.

“We have different designs like Japanese gardens and flashy kimonos. I wanted to show the sides of Japan that people don’t know.”

The house of Dior first presented a show in Japan in 1953, and the designer had a well-known fascination for the country.

– Dior had a lot of respect for traditional Japanese culture, and he wrote about it in his memoirs, says curator Florence Muller to AFP.

“I think there is a mutual fascination between France and Japan.”

From the 1950s, Dior also collaborated with Japanese companies, giving them the rights to adapt and reproduce Dior looks to cater to local tastes.

As a sign of the brand’s popularity, Japan’s former empress Michiko chose a Dior dress made from Japanese textiles when she married then-Prince Akihito in 1959.

The Tokyo show, which runs until May 28, includes archival pieces as well as works by recent creative directors, and showcases several objects inspired by Japan.

Among them are a John Galliano coat with “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa” print emblazoned on the bottom of the full skirt, and capes with Japanese obi-style belts created by Raf Simons.

Dior’s tight jacket dress called “Rashomon” – the name of a Japanese novel and film directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa – is also on display.

“This exhibition shows the mutual respect between Japan and France in their approach to craftsmanship, fashion, design and art,” Shigematsu said.(AFP)

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