Ever since Japan was first opened to trade with the West in the mid-19th century, Japanese arts and crafts have had an enduring influence on those of the West. Fashion is perhaps the most public face of this influence. Designers such as Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons led the wave that continues with younger designers such as Harajuku. Japan remains a nation whose rich textile and costume traditions have translated into cutting-edge innovation.
In Japan both courtly life and samurai culture were highly stylized. In the late 17th century the cultural focus shifted from military actions to bureaucratic ones. With this shift came the popularity of dark colors, especially black, which symbolized self-discipline. Even today the same phenomenon indicates urbane good taste. Continue reading