Parco, 1977

Harumi Yamaguchi worked as the head of advertising for PARCO, a department store chain who’s mission was to “combine retail and creative activity with a consciously female focus.” The copywriter and art director for PARCO’s advertising were also women, further reinforcing the female-centered approach to their marketing strategy. This particular piece, titled Parco, appeared in the 1977 summer spread for PARCO magazine. This was in the time of many economic, social, and political reforms in Japan, especially the ūman ribu, or women’s liberation movement. Parco is likely one of Yamaguchi’s most iconic pieces for the department store chain as it depicts two beautiful women embodying the spirit of luxury, liberation, and femininity and appearing being portrayed as unapologetically unbothered by societal norms and expectations. Yamaguchi’s work for PARCO, and the exposure it brought her, solidified her iconicity as a female Japanese artist, instrumental in the women’s liberation movement in Japan. The medium and subject of Parco is consistent with most of Yamaguchi’s other pieces, using her unique style of airbrushing and subject of gorgeous, liberated women. However, this particular painting displays two women simply relaxing poolside, while many others have the subject(s) engaged in some kind of activity, or at least in dynamic poses. Even though these two women are sunbathing, the water appears very dynamic and the woman’s hair in the pool appears as though it is moving. The women in Parco seem as though they are taking a well-deserved rest, as they live the active, on-the-go lives of modern women. This piece fits nicely within Harumi Yamaguchi’s collection of works and exemplifies the mission of PARCO and Yamaguchi herself in achieving women’s liberation and encouraging women to own their lives and bodies and not allow society to tell them what they can and can’t do with them.