Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The Wabi Sabi Aesthetic.

In one of my earlier posts I mentioned the Japanese theory of Iki in terms of a fashion aesthetic – which means that it concentrates on simplicity in design as to sustain physical and emotional distance between the opposite sex, but not completely losing it. It is a mode of self expression that doesn’t aim to bring attention to oneself, it is sophisticated, muted and minimal in styling.

Going on from that I have come across another Japanese aesthetic named ‘Wabi Sabi’ it has similar connotations as Iki but is more about the allure of unadorned clothing and finding beauty in imperfection. The Wabi Sabi aesthetic is not just defined in clothing but is more of a lifestyle choice – it is in respecting organic processes, of being in tune with nature, of accepting the natural growth and decay in life, of accepting an unadorned materialistic life and being humble by choice.

As Richard R Powell the author of ‘Wabi Sabi Simple’ explains, ‘nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect.’ I would like to say I have some of the qualities of a Wabi Sabi aesthetic but in reality I am materialistic as I would rather spend my last twenty on a top then donate to a wildlife trust (don’t judge) and have no proper knowledge of the ecosystem in living with an ecological mindset and what that fully entails.

However when it comes to the fashion of a Wabi Sabi aesthetic that excites me as some of my favourite Japanese designers embrace the Wabi Sabi aesthetic – Rei Kawakubo for Comme Des Garcon, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamato.

It is all about discovering a difference between something being pretty and interesting, clothing which is elegant but has traces of history and time within them. Deconstructed tailoring, frayed unfinished edges, ripped couture, monochrome palette, asymmetrical hemlines, distressed treated fabrics and androgynous style all reflect aspects of a Wabi Sabi aesthetic.

In that I can say I do embrace a Wabi Sabi aesthetic because I like not looking too put together, I’d rather be a jolie-laide than a Chelsea ra. In summary I’ll leave it to Yohji Yamamato who said ‘I think perfection is ugly’ and I fully agree.

Issey Miyake

Yohji Yamamato

Rei Kawakubo for Comme Des Garcon

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