"Work," said Junya Watanabe
, with a double fist-pump for emphasis, after a show whose theme seemed to be just that. There were tractors, trains, and diggers on the invitation, farmers and engineers on the catwalk. At a moment when there are so many men out of work, you could think Junya was making a statement about the dignity of labor. Or maybe this was his elegy for a prelapsarian era of full employment. There was
, after all, something nostalgic about the look of patched plaid shirts, bib-front overalls, and work pants hanging off big suspenders, just as there is something old-school about tractors in the age of agribusiness. But the look harked back to Junya's Spring collection in the garden. The topstitched trousers with rolled cuffs and the blanket-check paneling on shirt jackets also echoed the show before that, the one set in a city park. Junya used to favor more edge with his menswear (his Travis-Bickle-at-Woodstock collection will always be one of the great men's presentations of the aughts). Perhaps it's now a case of him settling into a gentle groove where he can make his own bucolic stand against the predations of modern times. But the groove is a little too
gentle. We could hope for more spirit from a man who, on the evidence of that perpetual smile, at least, has clearly had the good fortune to turn his work into play.