The image on the invitation—a young knight in tinfoil armor—gave nothing away. Or rather, it artfully misled, because the second the show started, the klezmer soundtrack cued a particular response to the clothes on the catwalk. Just as klezmer music conjures up visions of Jewish community life in Eastern Europe over a century ago, the clothes had the vintage feel of immigrants from those communities arriving in the New World, proudly wearing their carefully patched suits and big overcoats, trying their best to look like gentlemen. Patchwork has been a staple of Junya's vocabulary for a while, but this was one time when it looked like it was actually patching something.
All the models sported felt bowlers, a few had pencil moustaches that gave them a rakish caste, like they were some kind of performer, a klezmer musician perhaps. Or, because the shrunken proportions of the boiled wool jackets suggested Charlie Chaplin, a clown. In any case, it felt like Junya was spinning a folk tale, the kind where children become knights in shining armor in their dreams. One of the models even reminded us of antic Struwwelpeter with his big froth of hair, except this particular mannequin moved with the robotic glide of a somnambulant.
There is usually something in a Junya collection that references the dignity of labor. Here, it arrived in the form of what looked like utility wear, layered underneath the patched, fitted jackets as though the wearer had thrown on his gladder rags at the end of a hard day's work. Same thing with the denims, patched and, in one instance, suspendered.
Of course, this is just an onlooker's pipe dream. Fact is, the strongest pieces in the collection were the most unambiguously contemporary: a quilted navy duffel, and tan parka.