Celebrating 15 years in the music industry and to still be going strong is no mean feat. The J-pop trio Perfume (a-chan, KASHIYUKA and NOCCHi), are one of the most influential groups in Japan, having redefined the interplay between fashion, music, technology and design. They released their fifth studio album, Cosmic Explorer, earlier this year in April, and will visit the US later as a part of their 6th Tour. The Perfume Gallery Experience at London’s Old Truman Brewery Shop 7 celebrates their illustrious career, with much of the design prepared by Rhizomatiks. Fans and newcomers have the opportunity to see outfits, memorabilia and even buy some rare merchandise.
Dotted around the gallery are a selection of costumes from their music videos and stage performances, along with a bit of information about the outfits.
It is clear that their fashion is just as important as the music, becoming an extension of the story being told through their lyrics and videos. So we’re told that the dresses featured in their latest music video FLASH feature “soft pleated organdie on the outside and gold fabric inside”, to keep with the video’s theme of stillness and motion while making use of light and shadow.
Fans were given the opportunity to vote on Perfume’s official Facebook page for their favourite outfit which they would like displayed at the exhibition. Their costumes from love the world ended up coming out on top.
There are also high heel shoes by Number Twenty-One; a collaboration which saw the high heels created under Perfume’s supervision. They are specifically designed with a narrow back, Vibram sole and cushioned insole to reduce stress when dancing. They featured in the music video Pick Me Up.
The centrepiece is clearly the trio’s light-up LED dresses from the video to Spring of Life. Engineered by Rhizomatiks so that they light up in sync with the track and dance routines, it epitomises what fans have come to expect from Perfume – pushing the boundaries of music and fashion, interspersed with technology.
The walls at the back are adorned with photos of the trio, while a line of HDTV’s kitted with headphones allow you to view a selection of videos and live performances.
For the die hard fans, it is an experience to pick up some elusive merchandise. The albums LEVEL 3 and Cosmic Explorer could be purchased, with the latter also available in vinyl. The recent documentary WE ARE Perfume -WORLD TOUR 3rd DOCUMENT was also there on Blu-ray. Plus there were T-shirts, tote bags, towels and stationary, as well as 4th Tour and LIVE @ TOKYO DOME photobooks.
The size of the gallery experience in London might be a disappointment to some. Feeling a bit like selected highlights from their 15 years, it comes across as a fraction of what fans could expect to see at the exhibition when it moves to Pure Space at New York, coinciding with Perfume’s performance at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Nevertheless, the fact that this gallery is in the UK at all cannot be overlooked.
Perfume have performed in London twice (at Shepherd’s Bush, Empire, in 2013, and the Hammersmith Apollo in 2014). The gallery experience here shows that they clearly have not forgotten about their UK fans. However, looking at the bigger picture, a London gallery experience of a J-pop group would have been unheard of five years ago.
By Shalimar Sahota