An electrical snafu postponed the start of Junya Watanabe's show long enough for the Sex Pistols' anthem "Anarchy in the UK" to play three times on a backstage sound system. Sitting in the dark, one editor wondered out loud if the delay were intentionala valid question given this Japanese designer's appetite for subversion. Just then, a minuet kicked in and Watanabe's model troops stormed the runway in unison wearing army green, as if to say, "There's a war on, people. Have you forgotten?"
Last season's spiky paper headgear had been transformed into ominous masks. Made from electrical tape, tufts of black hair, and spiky silver studs, they looked every bit as disturbing as the similar hoods on his countryman Jun Takahashi's runway earlier in the week. The long dresses Watanabe constructed from patchworks of concert T-shirts for spring reappeared, but this time they were pieced together from fatigues, camouflage material, and green lace. Continuing the military theme, he took a battalion's worth of army jackets and worked them up into the trenches, parkas, and tail coats trailing straps that he's know for. And for an added dose of symbolism, he crocheted red, white, and blue into his camo sweaters.
The great thing about Watanabe, though, is that you never sense he's being provocative just for the sake of it. It was a thrill to watch him refine his timely ideas, and make exciting and, yes, wearable clothes in the process. Especially when many others, as they return to and rework the highlights of mid-century design, are resisting just that: timeliness.