The Powerhouse Museum’s main hall was packed to the rafters for Akira Isogawa exhibition and book launch on Tuesday 11th December. The exhibition itself became open to the general public on Friday 14th December.
Fashion pioneers were there including Linda Jackson and Jenny Kee. Art patrons and philanthropists were there including John Kaldor and Naomi Milgrom.. In fact, Ms Milgrom introduced Akira on stage to the audience after giving a heartfelt and glowing precis of Akira’s remarkable 25 year career.
The Minister for the Arts Don Harwin also spoke, as he said, as Akira’s friend.
Speakers quoted passages from Roger Leong’s book on Akira as it too was being launched. Also introduced was the new Director of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Lisa Havilah, who was formerly Director of Carriageworks.
Nearby to the main hall was the fashion exhibition itself. Despite being exhibited around the world, this exhibition is Akira’s first major retrospective, emphasising his inspirations and influences starting from a top which was a garment designed by Akira in 1994 for his collection ‘Not made in Japan’.
The exhibition is divided into four themes: Journey, Kimono, Collaborations and Craftsmanship. In addition to the 100 or so fashion pieces on display, some of which came from garments already donated to the Gallery, Akira indicated that as well what he has previously donated he will be donating a further 100 pieces bringing the Museum’s archive collection to 200.
Highlights included Akira’s designs for the Sydney Dance Company going back to the time when Graeme Murphy was its Director. The accompanying video showed how these designs were put to use with the dancers performances. Also included is his first Vogue magazine cover with a dress modelled by Naomi Campbell. Vogue’s editor saw Akira’s talent early on and her promotion of Akira launched him into the fashion guru stratosphere.
There is also a very informative video narrated by Akira as to how be came to Australia and became involved in fashion which included his graduation from East Sydney TAFE, to making counter culture costumes for 1990’s underground rap parties to being the darling of wealthy women and their daughters.
The Akira Isogawa exhibition runs at the Museum of Applies Arts and Sciences until 30 June 2019.
Featured image – Biographer Roger Leong and Akira Isogawa. All pics by Ben Apfelbaum.