What Am I Reading: Iga Węglińska

STIR looks into the reading habits of leading creatives – the Polish designer highlights her favourite bits from her latest read, Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion.

by STIRworldPublished on : Nov 23, 2022

Name of the book you are currently reading.

Iga Węglińska: Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion.

Who is the author? 

Iga: Aiko Fukai, Barbara Vinken, Susannah Frankel, and Hirofumi Kurino.

Front cover of Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion | What Am I Reading: Iga Węglińska | STIRworld
Front cover of Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion Image: Courtesy of Iga Węglińska

What is the genre? 

Iga: Exhibition catalogue—it is an album published by the Barbican Centre in London, accompanying the exhibition presented at the Barbican Art Gallery in 2011, under the same title as the book.

Do you judge a book by its cover?

Iga: I am a designer—fortunately (or unfortunately), I believe I am programmed to judge a book by its cover (smiles). In this case, the book provokes us to judge it by its cover, because it doesn’t have any title on the front.

Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion is the first comprehensive survey of Japanese avant-garde fashion of the last 30 years | What Am I Reading: Iga Węglińska | STIRworld
Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion is the first comprehensive survey of Japanese avant-garde fashion of the last 30 years Image: Courtesy of Iga Węglińska

What made you pick it up? Can you highlight any notable aspect of the book’s design aesthetics, typography, images…

Iga: I was invited to write a chapter of a book, about clothing forms, and patternmaking. The Future Beauty strongly focuses on that area, which is why I picked it up again. Japanese designers are masters in that field, and names such as Yohji Yamamoto, colour palette which helps us to focus on a form.

Węglińska’s favourite pages from Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion | What Am I Reading: Iga Węglińska | STIRworld
Węglińska’s favourite pages from Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion Image: Courtesy of Iga Węglińska

The book’s back blurb states: Future Beauty is the first comprehensive survey of Japanese avant-garde fashion of the last 30 years. Such designers as Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo made an enormous impact on the world fashion scene in the late twentieth century, challenging established notions of beauty and turning fashion into art. Today a new generation of radical designers, among them Tao Kurihara and Jun Takahashi, are fast gaining acclaim. This spectacular book, written by a team of experts led by the eminent fashion historian Akiko Fukai, explores the distinct sensibility of Japanese design–the uniqueness of its form, cut, and fabric. Illustrated with over 250 photographs and sketches, Future Beauty is an authoritative and stylish guide to some of the world’s most expressive fashion.

Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion is an exhibition catalogue | What Am I Reading: Iga Węglińska | STIRworld
Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion is an exhibition catalogue Image: Courtesy of Iga Węglińska

Your most favourite part(s) of it? 

Iga: From time to time, the book presents to us designs in two stages: flat and spatialised on a body. Pressed, flat, and non-spacial forms sometimes look like origami sculptures, other times like calligraphed characters. They never inform us about how they may look on a body. I find it interesting, provoking, and magical at the same time.

Węglińska’s favourite passage from Future Beauty | What Am I Reading: Iga Węglińska | STIRworld
Węglińska’s favourite passage from Future Beauty Image: Courtesy of Iga Węglińska

Did you gain any insight or did it help you unwind? 

Iga: Dealing with Japanese fashion always inspires me. I often reach for books on this topic, to stimulate myself and to push my own boundaries as a designer.

The book features inspiring Japanese fashion designs | What Am I Reading: Iga Węglińska | STIRworld
The book features inspiring Japanese fashion designs Image: Courtesy of Iga Węglińska

Your favourite lines to quote from the book. 

Iga: “What the clothes of these Japanese designers have in common is that only when they are worn do they take their final form, and movement causes them to acquire further unexpected shapes.”

The book features works by designers such as Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo | What Am I Reading: Iga Węglińska | STIRworld
The book features works by designers such as Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo Image: Courtesy of Iga Węglińska

At what time of the day do you read? 

Iga: I am an owl. I live, work, and read at night.

Hard books, e-books or audio/video books?

Iga: Hard books always! For me, the whole reading experience is also about tactile and olfactory experiences.

The book features works by designers such as Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo | What Am I Reading: Iga Węglińska | STIRworld
The book features works by designers such as Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo Image: Courtesy of Iga Węglińska

One book or book adaptation as a film that you always want to go back to, and why?   

Iga: I am a fan of biographical books and books about materials. In this field, the ones that affected me the most and to which I return are Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin by Andrew Wilson, and Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik.

The first one, because it seems true to the core, and it presents the whole design process and education on McQueen. I recommend it to my students, for them to be aware that it is a hard game, and you must be devoted if you want to play it.

  • The book explores the fashion scene in the late twentieth century, challenging established notions of beauty and turning fashion into art | What Am I Reading: Iga Węglińska | STIRworld
    The book explores the fashion scene in the late twentieth century, challenging established notions of beauty and turning fashion into art Image: Courtesy of Iga Węglińska
  • Iga Węglińska is perusing Future Beauty | What Am I Reading: Iga Węglińska | STIRworld
    Iga Węglińska is perusing Future Beauty Image: Courtesy of Iga Węglińska

The latter—by Mark Miodownik—is a story about matter and materials, but it is not dry scientific text. The author takes us on a journey around the world, under the microscope and over skyscrapers, to show us how paper turns yellow, chocolate makes us happier, and concrete can heal itself.

Look up more such interesting reads from the series ‘What Am I Reading’ and watch out for more.

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