Fresh Fruits
by Shoichi Aoki (Phaidon)

Fruits, the volume that precedes Fresh Fruits, documented the fashion at Omote-sando, the main street in the Harajuku area of Tokyo. At one time during the '90s, every Sunday the street was declared a pedestrian haven: all traffic was banned for the day, and Japanese kids started gathering there to flaunt their spectacular and outlandish outfits. Fresh Fruits is the second installment: a collection of photos that captures the final wave at its crest--the weekly street closing was abolished in 1998, and the phenomenon has slowly disappeared.

Each picture in Fresh Fruits showcases an outfit or two, and features a questionnaire with the model about the clothes they're wearing, their favorite music, current obsession, and "point of fashion." Entire Vivienne Westwood suits are matched (or gloriously mismatched) with handmade accessories; insights into the point of fashion range from "ice cream vendor" to "pretending to be Hawaiian"; and obsessions range from "making rabbits!" to "strawberry milk" to just plain "sex." (That one comes from a skinny, sulky Japanese boy in a fur coat on a glittering platinum bicycle) Only rarely does a grimace-inducing photo pop up; for instance, some teenager whose outfit is just an overwrought mess, and who probably got caught up in the fashion battleground at Omote-sando.

One of the most impressive parts of Fresh Fruits is perfectly described by the author: "It was the wearer who superseded the designer to create a new fashion sensibility that was as daring as it was transformative. But above all this fashion was quintessentially Japanese in its innovative mixing of traditional fashion codes and signifiers." There's a highly charged, paper-doll element to the scope of Fresh Fruits. As you flip the pages, the interchangeable bodies of Japanese youth appear in a dizzying range of aesthetic signifiers. Full Brit-punk tartan outfits tower alongside life-sized anime humanoids and something that looks like a character from the board game Candyland as Tokyo teenagers toy with the meaning-making elements in fashion. Semiotic play aside, there's also great pleasure to be had on the surface--a voluminous combination of fabrics, accessories, styles, attitudes, and colors suck you into a detailed, breathtaking, and spellbinding sensory experience.

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