Ends 13 November 2007
The exhibition explores themes of identity and environment, within the Harajuku district of Tokyo, Japan, an area synonymous with cutting-edge teenage fashion. The variety of fashion on display defies categorisation initially, but on closer inspection themes do emerge out of the multi-coloured gathering. The various characters who engage in cosplay ( costume play ), often mimic manga or anime characters and members of colourful Japanese rock bands. Other groups of teens have adopted a gothic Lolita style, which combines dresses modeled on 19th Century France, parasols and accessories to portray a look of coy innocence.
Girls Cluster together together in tight-knit groups...
Girls cluster together in tight-knit groups, posing for photographs and chatting happily with each other. It is possible to categorise these Japanese teenagers into convenient pockets of fashion, but that would gloss over the individuals who stray outside the group dynamics that are often at play in the area. These teenagers prefer to sit alone, barely engaging with their fellow Harajuku associates, simply waiting for their next photo opportunity. In a society where it is all too easy to lose yourself amongst the millions of people who call Tokyo home, Harajuku gives Japanese teenagers an opportunity to express themselves in a creative way.
Terri McManus is a lecturer on Foundation Studies in Art & Design, University of Ulster.
Craig Smith is a graduate of the University of Ulster in Combined Studies in Art & Design. He was a nominated web design finalist in the 2001 Irish Design Institute awards.