Spring & Summer 2011- Issue 40 —

The fortieth issue of the key Japanese glossy has two images of women dominating: lesbians and vamps. And, better still, a combination of the two. From the opening shot of the Ellen Von Unwerth cover to the feature on French photographer Bettina Rheims within, there’s a lot in this issue to please fans of girl-on-girl action. Perhaps the most intriguing of these is Mika Koyanagi’s rather obtuse article on what can only be described as a visual aide-mémoire rounding up international cinema’s portrayal of the Sapphic.

On the fashion front, the louche decadence – dare we suggest bisexual?- aura of the vamp and the bohemian siren that has cropped up in various ways in international fashion iconography in recent years is reinvented for Commons & Sense in new and arresting ways. Sol Sanchez’ stunning ‘Limelight’ fashion story creates a heady and erotic world of low-rent screen divas evocative of another era; the 1960’s turning into the 1970’s to be precise. If Jack Smith had ever made a promotional film for Biba, these might be the stills. Referring to the same period but approached entirely differently, Lars Botten’s story ‘Bonnie’ is equally notable; all bright sunshine and a free-wheeling California hippie feeling.

As always, the issue also offers treats for fans of illustration. In this particular issue, the three illustrated features – by Jeanne Detallante, Mesdemoiselles and Mamico- that open the issue serve as a powerful reminder of the power of illustration to convey an image of fashion. They are just one reason amongst many that this fortieth issue of Commons & Sense remains as collectible as its illustrious predecessors.  

    Spring & Summer 2011- Issue 40 –
    June 2011 392 Pages 0 Minutes of audio 0 Minutes of video
    In This Issue –
    Mr.eluard Beyond the Colours Manic Monday Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe Physical Graffiti Accomplished Fact While my Heart is Still Beating Rgb Lieben Natur 7th Chord Out in Colours Triad Tokyo Label's Latest looks A LOVE SONG BONNIE
    Kaoru Sasaki
    Kaoru Sasaki
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Our Take —

Commons & Sense is a biannual Japanese magazine that has existed since the late 1990’s. Describing itself as a riposte to the overly ‘catalogue-like’ approach to fashion magazines that had long dominated the Japanese scene, its aim was to offer a quintessentially Japanese take on international fashion in keeping with the spirit of more experimental and edgy publications coming out of Paris or London, whilst being formulated from an entirely Japanese perspective.

More than a decade later, the title is now considered one of the prime examples of Japanese publishing creativity. With a strong focus on fashion – for which the Japanese consumer is internationally known to have an astonishing appetite- the title also covers numerous other creative disciplines such as architecture and design, lifestyle and a dash of celebrity and the more erudite areas of pop culture for which Japan is renowned.

At almost 400 pages per issue, Commons & Sense feels more like the leisurely approach of a book in which images can be fully elaborated and explored rather than crammed into the space dictated by the restrictions of slimmer publications. Focusing heavily on images, this means that this bilingual publication has a penchant for lengthy features that fully elaborate the tenet of the take on the subject matter. With Japan retaining a significant position on the international fashion circuit, Commons & Sense is essential reading for anyone who is interested in a well-rounded understanding of the contemporary zeitgeist.

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