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HAPPENINGText: Luca Ionescu

The Powerhouse Museum and Sydney Festival are presenting a new exhibition “FRUiTS: Tokyo street style” photographs by Shoichi Aoki. The exhibition showcases a vibrant and engaging collection of photographs taken in Tokyo between 1997 and 2002. The images capture a radical Japanese fashion subculture that has inspired fashion designers worldwide.

FRUiTS: Tokyo street style is part of the visual arts program of Sydney Festival 2003 and is the first major exhibition for Japanese photographer Shoichi Aoki. Shoichi Aoki began documenting street fashion in Tokyo’s fashionable Harajuku area in the mid 1990s when he noticed a marked change in the way young people were dressing. Rather than following European and American trends, people were customising elements of traditional Japanese dress – kimono, obi sashes and geta sandals – and combining them with handmade, secondhand and alternative designer fashion in an innovative ‘DIY’ approach to dressing.

In 1997 Shoichi Aoki established the monthly magazine FRUiTS, now a cult fanzine with an international following, to record and celebrate the freshness of fashion in Harajuku. All photographs in the exhibition were originally published in FRUiTS.

Some of the many styles seen in FRUiTS include punk, cyber and decora, in which simple garments are accessorised with toys and plastic jewellery that clink together to add an aural dimension to dress. Clothing inspired by cartoon characters like Sailor Moon are also popular. In the last couple of years ‘elegant gothic Lolitas’ have had a strong presence in Japan. This style takes Harajuku’s doll-like ‘Lolita’ look into a harder world of black lace crinolines, corsets and bat-shaped handbags.

In addition to individually devised and handmade outfits, each ‘look’ has its own avant-garde designers and brands. Outfits and accessories by Baby the stars shine bright, Takuya Angel, 20471120, Ohya and Christopher Nemeth will be exhibited alongside colourful ‘DIY’ garb sourced by Shoichi Aoki direct from the pages of FRUiTS.

Featuring more than 70 of Shoichi Aoki’s portraits and a selection of extraordinary clothing, FRUiTS: Tokyo street style celebrates the spirit of Harajuku and documents an inspirational moment in Japanese fashion and popular culture.

FRUiTS: Tokyo Street Style
Date: December 21st, 2002 – July 27th, 2003
Place: Sydney Powerhouse Museum
Address: 500 Harris Street, Ultimo, Sydney NSW 2007
Tel: +61 612 9217 0111

Text: Luca Ionescu
Photos: Courtesy of Sydney Powerhouse Museum © Shoichi Aoki

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