Junya Watanabe's audience descended into the perma-gloom of the Salle Wagram, a turn-of-the-century venue off the Champs Élysées. The former music hall proved the perfect setting for Watanabe's elegiacthough far from morbidshow.
Watanabe's collection was composed almost entirely of dusty-gray '30s-styled dresses in satin, cotton and velvet, often bias cut and/or backless, and always in an artful state of distress. Hems were riddled with holes, as though the gray-lipsticked wearers had walked away from some disaster in their sturdy leather biker boots and crooked, incinerated Edwardian hats. The designer used patchworked textures of black, a minute sprinkle of silver beading on an embroidered dress, and a beautiful layering of black lace to veil a silver lining. Among the drifting horde of dresses were a couple of jackets, ridged with seaming in the technique Watanabe used for denim in his Spring show, and a stellar full-length raincoat full of drama and mystery.
Watanabe, who said after the show that he "was feeling in the dark," may be reacting to the current state of the world. But he's a sensitive soul, more prone to bursts of cheerfulness than angst, and the collection came across as delicate and melancholy rather than doom-laden.