Akio Hirata’s Hats Exhibition

photos by Daici Ano | click to enlarge

The last time I got excited about a hat exhibition was… well ok, not everything has a precedence. But when globally-acclaimed Japanese design studio Nendo are brought in to design a retrospective celebrating the 70-year career of Akio Hirata, one of Japan’s foremost avant-garde hat designers, sparks – or better yet, hats – are sure to fly.

Born in 1925, Hirata immersed himself in hat design at the tender age of 14. In 1962 he travelled to Paris to serve as apprentice to Jean Barthet, one of France’s most prominent milliners with a clientele that included Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren. Upon returning to Japan he established Haute Mode Hirata, and went on to design hats for the likes of Issey Miyake, Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto.

In response to a request from Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons) to design a hat that looks like “it had been left unused in someone’s dresser,” Hirata once famously created a hat adorned with crushed flowers. Much in the same way that Hirata was known for grabbing the creative reins, Nendo, in an unexpected turn of events, decided to flood the gallery space with roughly 4000 “ghost hats” that define the flow of activity. But more importantly, they serves as an antithesis to the roughly 130 original Hirata hats – both new and old – that span the designer’s career. Rather than drowning out Hirata’s work, the calculated move serves as a point of contrast, differentiating the fine craftsmanship and artistic sensibility that has defined Hirata as an artist.

The show takes place at Spiral, a multi-purpose cultural center that was included in our Tokyo Design Guide. If you thought you missed the exhibition, you’re in luck because it’s been extended. Originally scheduled to close on June 26th, overwhelming popularity prompted organizers to extend the show through this weekend.

Hirata’s hats | click to enlarge


Hirata no Boshi (Hirata’s hats)
Spiral – 1F (Gmap)
06.15.2011 – 07.03
11:00 – 20:00

source: twitter | Spiral | Nendo


  1. Great hats, so why are women in Tokyo wearing “lampshades” ?

  2. How lovely this looks. I’ll get to Tokyo one day..

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