Striking up images of Beau Brummel and Beethoven, Junya Watanabe effectively cut off the urban uprising he broke out last season in mid-yell. All you needed to know was there in look one: a high-collared frothy ruffled shirt knotted in a cravat; cutaway tailcoat; narrow pants; and pointy, patent lace-ups. The formal, decorative, historicist look was a sharp change of mood, but not a volte-face. Watanabe regularly shifts between romance and punk, and the reason he doesn't look schizoid is that, funnily enough, the same elements always turn up either side of the divide.
Thus, Watanabe's signature tailcoats, nip-waist dandy jackets, lean boy-cut pants, and shirts were switched this season into baroque-splendid fabrics instead of ripped-up army fatigues. Or so it might have appeared. On close inspection, the first several looks were cut in denim, followed by narrow, vaguely fifties Teddy Boy drainpipesa touch of street swagger to undercut the poshness, and a flash of Watanabe's jean genius. After that, he moved the collection on up into baroque printed paisleys, as well as beige chino-gabardines appliquéd with white lace, and tuxedo pants. He worked the thought through into full-length shirtdresses in tucked lawn or laceand a final skirt that exited in a flourish of cotton shirt ruffles rippling into a train. Masculine but feminine, romantic but modern, smart but wearableit was all that, but the most difficult contradiction the accomplished Watanabe pulled off was that this collection looked new, yet totally identifiable as his own.