Black was once the power color of fashion; fashion people always wore black. And in large part it was the Japanese designers who established this precedent in the eighties. At some point this changed. Now fashion people don't really wear that much black, at least not to fashion shows. Despite black being scientifically proven to be slimming—and who doesn't want to look thinner?—the details are missed by the cameras: You see, black is notoriously difficult to photograph. So as the street-style types stand outside of fashion shows and pose and pose and pose, their bright colors clashing, their accessories conflicting, our IQs diminishing as we watch them, the designers inside, the designers who make all of this possible, well, they are showing BLACK. And it's also what Junya Watanabe did today.
Black is not for public spectacle, it's for private consumption. And there is an idea of something more private being expressed in collections this season, something for a more personal pleasure. Junya Watanabe's show today looked at a personal craft, that of patchwork. Here he once again took one element of fashion and obsessively, compulsively, literally pieced it together to form his Fall offering. At the same time, this collection was patched together with elements of his past, a personal patchwork of inspirations and ideas from his career as a designer. The music seemed to reinforce this point, itself a patchwork of classical piano pieces, rewound at times and distorted while the models walked at different speeds. Junya Watanabe said of his offering: "Patchwork madness."
It started off with circles, appliquéd and pieced together, radiating ever wider. Mainly in black, but it was the textures and materials that mattered: from brocades to bouclé, velvets to satins, silk to sequins, leather (or leatherette) to lace. The circles built the silhouettes, the enveloping, cocooning, tunic shapes and the cloaking coats, occasionally bursting into ruffles or layered with tulle for skirts. Midway through, the familiar quilted down jackets, made so desirable and cut like couture that had appeared in his Fall 2009 collection, made an appearance again. Then on to strips of fabrics, running like sedimentary rock formations, a strata of fashion, a clue to its history.
Once again Junya Watanabe has proved what a great designer he is with this collection. Prodding the past but always producing a notion of the present, he continually moves forward. While over the past year he has become known for his patchwork jeans, worn by fashion people far and wide as well as those not averse to the cameras, today he short-circuited this signature at the same time as strengthening the notion of patchwork. That's the power of black: It could well be the answer to image fatigue.