The the effect of weathering on layers

The characteristic features and material qualities of this Japaneseaesthetic is its “suggestion of natural process” (Koren, 2008)wabi-sabi is an expression of frozen time. The materials used are vulnerable tothe effects of weathering they record the sun, rain, wind and cold and thehuman treatment in a “language of discoloration” (Koren, 2008)The wear and tear, the imperfection the staining, peeling and cracking adds tothe beauty and mystery of the object. (Figure. 3) In this picture we see theeffect of weathering on layers of old paint. The rust and the peeling iscapturing and recording time.         Another key characteristic of wabi-sabi is its irregularity, thesewabi-sabi objects are indifferent to the conventional norms of beautystandards. Wabi-sabi offers what one could argue to be the “wrong solution” (Koren, 2008)Therefore things wabi-sabi often appear asymmetric in shape, misshaped and evenawkward, for some people wabi-sabi object could be considered ugly.

 Wabi-sabi could also display effects ofaccident, similar to a broken ceramic bowl, which has been glued back togetherin a process called ‘kintsugi’ also known as ‘golden repair’. The kintsugitechnique involves repairing broken pottery with powdered gold, embracing its flawsand imperfections. The highlighted cracks mark the life of an object, the crackis an event of its life and has not ended its use but is celebrating its changeand its fate. (Figure. 4) It is the acceptance of the inevitable, an aestheticappreciation of the “evanescence of life” (Koren, 2008)therefore wabi-sabi’s characteristic could be also understood as a state ofmind.          Wabi-sabi objects are unpretentious they are “unstudied andinevitable looking” (Koren, 2008)They do not desire or demand attention, on the other hand wabi-sabi objects areunderstated, however not without presence or “quite authority” they coexisteasily with the rest of the environment.

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It is only during the direct contactand use with things wabi-sabi that one could really appreciate it. According toKoren wabi-sabiness in no way depends on “knowledge of creators background” andin fact is “best if the creator is of no distinction, invisible or anonymous.” (Koren, 2008, p.

68)   Another important characteristic of wabi-sabi is its murky quality; theseobjects are vague and blurry. Similar to things that approach nothingness orthings that come out of it, the colours fade into smoky hues, muddy earth tonesand blackish deep tones. Simplicity is however the core aspect of wabi-sabi.Nothingness is the ultimate simplicity, “but before and after nothingness,simplicity is not so simple”. (Koren, 2008)The idea is to pare down an object to its essence but making sure not to removethe poetry.

Japanese metaphor of the idea of something coming and going intoexistence and leaving subtle evidence behind is the cherry blossom, one ofJapans most cliché visual and cultural representations. In spring the cherrytree blossoms for about a week, but a sudden change in the weather could causeall the fragile flowers to fall off. During this period the people of Japanspread their mats under the tree to observe the flowers. It is due to ourever-present awareness of the ephemerality of it all that the enduring power ofwabi-sabi come into existence, (Figure. 5) a “moment before there were noblossoms. A moment hence there will be no blossoms…” (Koren, 2008, p. 84)         The characteristics of this Japanese quintessential aesthetic ofwabi-sabi can be found in the works of Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo forComme des Garçons collections from the very first showcased in Paris in 1981 topresent day.

I will look at five examples that display the essence of thisaesthetic. Yohji Yamamoto’s 1983 womenswear ready-to-wear collection displays astrong essence of the wabi-sabi aesthetic. (Figure. 6) In the photograph belowwe can see three models, two of them facing the camera and one with her backturned to us. The models have messy hair and no makeup.

The garments are rippedand slashed at the sleeves, they have holes in them, and there are threadshanging from all directions. The fabric seems to be simple cottons, to Yamamotothe best materials are those “where the primary material is used in the mostnatural way”. (Yamamoto, 2014, p.

64) Cotton as anatural fabric has a connection to the wabi-sabi, it is a humble workwearfabric, and for Yamamoto coming back to cotton creates a “new elegance”. Yamamoto’schoice and way of working the cotton, shifts these garments into a realm of thesculptural. The hemlines and edges of fabrics are raw. The fall of the fabricson the body is comfortable and relaxed, Yamamoto is using soft tailoring toachieve this oversized relaxed silhouettes. The fabric seems to have been aged,this is a technique that is used throughout the work of Yamamoto and that isextremely important to 


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