Thursday, September 07, 2006

Tokyo Fashion Week: Taisha Nobukuni

I've been checking out images coming out of Tokyo fashion week for the past couple of days, mostly thinking, huh, what a ho-hum bunch of collections. Which was suprising and disappointing. Because of the strength of the Tokyo streetwear scene, I always expect more of that region's designers.

And then I'm looking through the images today and I come across Taisha Nobukuni's show and damn, it's not boring at all! See for yourself:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

See more images/credits here.

Kinda startling aren't they? I suppose you could argue that Nobukuni, like most designers struggling to make a Yen, simply wanted to make a statement about color and chose to do it in a way that would draw some extra eyes to his designs. (Some of which, btw, are pretty cool. I love the material used on the dress and the man's hoodie is neat.)

Still, I don't think his makeup choice comes out of a vacuum. There are a couple of blackface music groups that perform in Japan and the most famous one is called the Gosperats. I read about them on MixedMediaWatch, a site which I have found tends to have a very inclusive take on all things race-related.

Anyway, in conclusion, I don't have an opinion. I'm white, I don't know squat about Japanese culture, sometimes in these situations it's just better to let someone else do the opinionating.

UPDATE: A big thank-you to MixedMediaWatch, who was kind enough to link to this post. I've noticed that it also received a link from BlackTokyo (you'll have to register to read the comments). So far the comments have ranged from disgust to being neutral or, like me, uncertain of what to make of the fashion show, and one commentator on BlackTokyo had an overall positive take on the models' appearance and viewed it less as a statement about black people and more just an aesthetic choice.


Carmen Van Kerckhove said...

Thanks for linking to Mixed Media Watch! Really appreciate it. :)

Yikes, this is a good, but disturbing find. I'll have to post something about it too. :|

Lois said...

Hiya Carmen: Love your site! You guys do fantastic work.

Life Upside Down said...

You may want to describe that I can understand why you "don't have an opinion". It sounds to me like American cultural politics has implicitly suggested that "whites" must excuse themselves from culture and cultural dialogue. You have a culture too. I would love to hear your opinion...which doesn't have to be interpreted as offensive (if that's what you're trying to avoid). Thanks for the links, BTW.

Lois said...

Good point. That was a sloppy/lazy comment on my part. I don't think because I'm white I can't comment. What I should have said is that the implications of this runway show are very tough for me to understand because I know so little about Japanese culture, and because it is in part art, the makeup on the models isn't hitting me at the same gut level as something that is more blatently racist does. Because of that, I really did wonder how such an image might affect an American person of color, who, on a day-to-day basis, has a much heavier load to carry when it comes to issues related to race and how it's represented in the media. For them, it might not be as easy to flip this off as just another creative choice.