Sit through enough fashion shows and you can begin to question their efficacy—until you hit one that so beautifully amplifies the designer's vision, your faith is reaffirmed. You just slump back and surrender to the complete package: styling, music, emotion. And, of course, the clothes. Designer Mihara Yasuhiro achieved this today with a presentation that combined quietly poetic outfits, rare feats of fabric technology, and some of the most jaw-dropping visual effects yet seen in a fashion context. Tears were shed at show's end.
Japanese design company WOW created a shadow play that was back projected in sync with the models coming on and off the runway. As it rained in silhouette, for instance, a man stepped onto the catwalk in one of Yasuhiro's waterproof parka/poncho hybrids.
The designer is a storyteller, and his favorite tale revolves around the urban male's relationship with nature. The inspiration for his latest collection was Henry David Thoreau's Walden, and its celluloid handmaiden, Into the Wild. So, as the back projections told a story of Edenic nature regenerating then degenerating with the appearance of man, then evolving into a city (clearly Paris) that was also washed away, the clothes dressed a kind of grungy Pilgrim's Progress.
They started with the vintage look of aged sweatshirts, cardigans with pulls, patched denims, trompe l'oeil shirts knotted around waists, and artfully constructed shorts. Jeweler Husam el Odeh covered a distressed sweatshirt with tiny pieces of domestic hardware like keys and bolts, turning them into fetish objects of a world left behind. Outerwear for our pilgrim's trip into the wild impressively included fatigues in a camouflage pattern composed of flowers (Rei Kawakubo managed a similar illusion with her skulls yesterday). His return to society was anticipated by sophisticated pieces that looked printed but were actually woven, as in a coat with the image of a tree, using a technique that Yasuhiro himself invented. Then, with Paris twinkling in silhouette, came a parade of urban tailoring (though the pilgrim wore fringed suede boots with his suit, still a frontiersman at heart).
During the finale, birds flocked on the screen and, in a cloud of feathers, a silhouette that was recognizably that of the designer came crashing from the sky, before the flesh-and-blood version stepped out to take his bow. When he was asked backstage if he ever wished he could fly, he nodded an enthusiastic yes. Well, today he did.