Book List of the Week

East Meets West: Books Every Fashion Designer Should Read—Akiko Fukai and Claire Wilcox

By Steve Kroeter March 15, 2011
Akiko Fukai

Among the books chosen by Akiko Fukai, Director and Chief Curator of the Kyoto Costume Institute (KCI) in Kyoto, is Issey Miyake: East Meets West. The title provides a symbolic link to the books selected by Claire Wilcox, Senior Curator of Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London.

While their lists reflect differing cultural traditions, both of these commentators see books as having an important role for fashion designers. “Let life and books lead you where they will,” Wilcox reminds designers. She notes that the V&A and its research libraries were “set up in the 19th century to inspire creative design.” Fukai suggests that “of the many tools at a fashion designer’s disposal, books may be among the most important, “ as “they provide access . . . to what may be the most critical tool for fashion design’s future: philosophical thinking.”

Claire Wilcox

The scholarly interests of these two curators have intersected both geographically and intellectually. Akiko Fukai, who oversees a highly regarded collection that features Western clothing beginning with the 17th century as well as the work of Japanese fashion designers, has organized a number of international exhibitions accompanied by major catalogues—including “Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion,” which just ended its run at the Barbican Art Gallery in London in February. Claire Wilcox, a leading authority on 20th-century and contemporary fashion and the curator of exhibitions on designers Vivienne Westwood and Gianni Versace, examined in detail the work of 20th-century Japanese designers— including Rei Kawakubo and Issey Miyake—in one of her most talked-about exhibitions—and catalogues—Radical Fashion.

Steve Kroeter
Editor in Chief

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