The gauzy, drape-y beauty of Junya Watanabe's Spring collection adds something relaxed to the current dialogue about vivid color, goddess dressing, and flower prints. Somehow, without being remotely pedestrian, each of his bunchy wrapped dresses, whipped around the body out of one seamless piece of tablecloth linenbright pink, followed by lime, cobalt, and cerulean bluemade summer dressing seem, for the first time this season, beautifully effortless.
Using simple materials tethered to bands of utilitarian tape, Watanabe created shapes that wound asymmetrically here and there, baring the back or dipping off the shoulder. A man of few words, the only clue he gave afterward about his starting point was, "It all goes back to Africa." In retrospect, you could see what he meant, but, as with so many collections these days, it's not so much the conceptual origin that mattersonly whether the designer transforms it into something a woman can imagine wearing. On that score, this collection delivered a rare sequence of delightful surprises.
After the drapery, Watanabe worked in superbright ruched chiffon jackets with pocket detailing edged in strips of gold laceCoco-like in front, but crafted into scrolled eighteenth-century peplums in the back. Following that, he tackled the flowers, making bloused smocks in forties-influenced tea-dance prints, then breaking out into classic arts-and-crafts Liberty-print tan lawn cotton dresses. Suffice to say, it amounted to one of the season's most sensitive interpretations of overground trend from an underground sourceexperimental, yet never deviating from Watanabe's recognizable signatures.