Much is quite rightly made of the enormous influence that Japan had on David Bowie, characterized best perhaps by his iconic stage outfits designed by the bombastic Kansai Yamamoto. However, long before Bowie set foot on Japanese soil in the early 1970s, his stylistic influence had spread with his music, and his lithe androgynous appearance injected something more romantic into the hippie fashion that spread from the live houses of Shinjuku to the then-burgeoning Harajuku.
His contribution to Japanese fashion in the decades that followed is lamentably rarely acknowledged, though his flirtations with glam rock and his appearance in the film "Labyrinth" are frequently cited as formative influences by those in the Japanese visual-kei genre of music, which places the aesthetics of the performers on par with the music. Then, as we head into the later years of the artist's life, the disheveled dandyism of the early 2000s became a fixture of Japanese menswear, a flamboyance that continues to this very day.
Paying homage to this undeniable force is the "David Bowie is" exhibition, originally curated and organized by London's Victoria and Albert Museum. Now on show at Tokyo's Warehouse Terrada G1 building, it spans the scope of Bowie's cultural contributions with a healthy focus on fashion. Japan will be the only country in Asia to host the exhibition and it's hoped that it will not only enlighten visitors about Bowie's effect on a country that he so clearly cared for, but also the influence it had on him. (Samuel Thomas)