2017 marks an important milestone in Irish and Japanese history as this year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Japan.

As sixty years in Japanese culture is a very significant milestone known as kanreki, this time is considered a period of reflection and celebration, symbolising both the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.

To commemorate this significant event a wide range of events will take place throughout Ireland giving an insight into the rich artistic and cultural similarities that both countries share.

HI! Fashion an exhibition exploring garments from Japan and Ireland does just this opening at the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny on Friday 12 August 2017 and running until the 12 November 2017 this exhibit explores the visual parallels and contrasts between fashion designers on the two Islands.

Ireland and Japan have long shared certain commonalities, including the need for designers to constantly travel to fashion capitals like Paris and London. It was this frequent travelling that led to the Japanese revolution of the 1980s taking place in Paris whilst designers from Ireland frequently used London as a base for their work.

As well as sharing the need to travel designers have often shared materials, techniques, and inspirations, creating a global exchange between the two countries. These techniques and processes can be seen throughout the Hi! Fashion exhibition with Japanese and Irish fashion garments sitting side by side, creating a visual theme composed of contrasting pieces.

Showcasing a wide range of garments from across the decades as well as some new pieces, the work of Japan and Ireland’s most renowned designers such as Sybil Connolly, who launched her couture line in 1957 and Kansai Yamamoto, designer of the late David Bowie’s costumes during the 1970s.

The pieces have been sourced from all around the world creating an exhibition that according to Irish born curator and writer Gemma A. Williams “illustrates not only the global language of fashion but also reveals how it is under pinned by the fusion of concept and craft.’

Collaborating with the award-winning studio Roji run by Steven McNamara, Williams has managed to collect the garments of over 20 Irish and Japanese designers creating an unmissable event that fans of history, style and fashion design won’t want to skip.

An official event in the celebrations of the 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and Ireland, and supported by the Japan Foundation.

Information can be found on https://www.kilkennyarts.ie/programme/hi-fashion.

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