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“Dress Code: Are You Playing Fashion?” at The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, does not privilege particular designer brands, though they are there: Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Comme des Garcons, Vetements. Nor is it simply a chronological survey of historical transitions, though around 90 items from The Kyoto Costume Institute range from 18th-century European court dress to contemporary Japanese street culture.

Fashion is here identified as a game. The rules are not entirely clear, but there are conducts to be observed, codes to be broken, winners, losers and, finally, stylistic exhaustion. The exhibition’s foci are the negotiations between polarities, between participants and spectators; seeing and being seen; equalization and differentiation; individualism and conformism; contexts and their de-contextualization.

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