Jun Takahashi's Spring collection left the audience with the impression that the young Japanese designer is a burning rebel with a sociopolitical point to make. So his invitation, printed on cutout figures, had people puzzling over what edgy direction he might take for fall. In the end, though, the concept wasn’t an intellectual mind bender, but the simple conceit of dressing paper dolls.
The whimsical show started with a pair of girls who wandered out wearing printed tabard dresses with long gloves, hair in off-kilter up-dos, eyes shaded by twisted metal cocktail veils, and lips tinted blue and green. They paused, and then one unfolded half a raw-edged tweed suit and stuck it to the other with Velcro tabs. The stick-on clothes had a suburban ladylikeness, all polka-dot blouses, dressmaker-y frocks and fake-fur coats. These sliced-off secondary outfits got attached to everyday sportswear, like sweats and cargo pants with vast pockets, and accessorized with photo-printed cutouts of necklaces, watches and corsages. It was cute at first, but once it was clear that no further twists were going to develop, the show dragged on a bit.
"Last season’s theme was very heavy, so I wanted to do something lighter," Takahashi said afterward. Fall's idea, and its arty execution, puts him somewhere along the avant-garde continuum that includes Junya Watanabe, Viktor & Rolf and Bernhard Willhelm. Which, after all, is an interesting place to be.