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Akira Isogawa
, 2001

by Peter Brew-Bevan

type C photograph (sheet: 50.6 cm x 40.9 cm, image: 48.9 cm x 38.8 cm)

Akira Isogawa (b. 1964), fashion designer, was born in Kyoto, Japan, and first came to Australia on a working holiday at the age of twenty- one. Excited by what he saw as the country’s ‘fresh and youthful spirit,’ he moved here permanently, working as a waiter by night while studying fashion design at East Sydney TAFE and Sydney’s National Art School. In 1993 he opened the Akira Isogawa boutique in Woollahra, and swiftly established a reputation for his bold and intelligent clothes. His collections have appeared annually at Sydney’s Australian Fashion Week since 1996, when he sent all his models out wearing red socks because he couldn’t afford shoes for them. Since 1998 he has shown his Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter collections annually in Paris. He has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art and has twice featured in the Powerhouse Museum’s Fashion of the Year retrospective. At 1999’s Australian Fashion Industry Awards he was named Designer of the Year and Womenswear Designer of the Year. Akira Isogawa: Printemps été, at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2004–05, was the first solo exhibition of an Australian designer’s work to be shown at one of its major art institutions. In 2005 Isogawa was one of six designers depicted on the ‘Australian Legends’ series of stamps issued by Australia Post; on receipt of a postcard, his father in Japan, who had decried Akira’s choice of career, assumed that his son had somehow made the stamp himself as a novelty item. Isogawa has designed costumes for several Sydney Dance Company productions, and for the Australian Ballet’s production of Graeme Murphy’s Romeo and Juliet.

Peter Brew-Bevan (b. 1969) majored in painting at the South Australian School of Art and Design, taking to photography while completing his degree. Moving to Sydney, he came to specialise in portraiture, contributing to Vogue, Who, Elle, Inside Sport and Condé Nast Traveller. He photographed Akira Isogawa half-hidden amongst the cardboard templates used to create the patterns for his exquisitely detailed garments, with one of his own labels adhering to his hand.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2005
Accession number: 2005.77