Kunihiko Morinaga

Kunihiko Morinaga’s high-fashion, high-tech label Anrealage is the focus of a new exhibit debuting Friday at the concept space Japan House Los Angeles.

The Japanese designer, known for his collections pushing the boundaries of wearable technology, curated his first solo North American exhibition called “A Light Un Light.” The exhibit, which runs through March 23, features pieces from across different collections of the past decade, all themed around a play on the duality of light.

“There’s the real and the unreal or the normal and the abnormal,” Morinaga said through a translator as he summed up the exhibit’s themes.

The “A Light Un Light” exhibit sits within the gallery of a concept space called Japan House, created by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Los Angeles location joins an existing Japan House in São Paulo with a third to open in London this year.

“We want people to come here and experience Japan with the five senses,” Japan House president Yuko Kaifu said of the space.

Japan House Los Angeles is nestled within the Hollywood & Highland shopping and entertainment center and takes up over 6,000 square feet for a retail space and the gallery. A sister space on the fifth floor of Hollywood & Highland totals some 8,000 square feet and will include an upscale Japanese restaurant, library and event space set to open in the summer.


Anrealage’s exhibition at Japan House Los Angeles.  Aya Muto

That the Los Angeles location is kicking off with an Anrealage exhibit fits with the aim of Japan House to show what Kaifu said is a hodgepodge of the best of the best when it comes to art, culture, science, technology, fashion, pop culture and gastronomy.

“Our overarching theme for the opening season is art and innovation,” she said. “Mr. Morinaga is a designer, but he’s an artist and an innovator.”

The exhibit was created not just as a showcase but meant to allow visitors to also play with the technology.

“You can experience it; you don’t just look at it,” he said. “It’s very interactive. It’s an exchange. Fashion exhibits are usually just to look at and I think there’s a difficulty in that, but even people who don’t know fashion can know about fashion [with the exhibit]. I brought all the things that show the root of fashion in my mind.”

Pieces from Anrealage’s spring 2016 collection, dubbed “reflect,” reveal patterns in seemingly solid color fabric when flashed with light. Photochromic dyes used in the spring 2015 “Shadow” collection morph from white to black, also revealing unique designs, when exposed to ultraviolet light. There’s also a dress sculpted from a 600-pound roll of denim, using a robotic arm. Morinaga’s more recent work for spring 2018 with a material often used in construction to show stress unseen to the human eye in places such as concrete or bridges. In a garment, that’s translated in pieces that show off streaks of color when the fabric is crinkled.


From the Anrealage spring 2016 collection, “Reflect.”  Aya Muto

“Within one piece of clothing, there’s these two ideas in it and that’s a characteristic of our work,” Morinaga said.

Although the exhibit looks back at 10 years worth of work, the designer said the concept behind the line has changed little since its start.

“It’s everyday normalness expressed in a very abnormal way,” he said. “The details of what you might miss on just a daily basis or your daily routine. How shadows show up or you might not notice that there’s wrinkles because there’s pressure applied, or if you’re not in the light it will turn dark. Those are very sort of obvious things expressed in a different way. Even the little details have this theme imbued in them.”