January 20, 2012 Paris
It was a similar fundamental opposition—insider-outsider—that defined Mihara's new collection. The way he sees it, the information flow is such that everyone around the world understands each other's cultures. They're the insiders, moving and changing with technology. The people who live outside this informational fast track are doomed to be old-fashioned. That means the glamorous gloss that Hollywood rebels like James Dean and Steve McQueen gave to outsider status has evaporated.
It was a typically complicated Mihara rationale for a collection that otherwise communicated its split personality with immediacy and charm. The military influence that is major for Fall has always been part of this designer's repertoire, but, given Japan's especially conflicted relationship with militarism, it was a revelation to see how Mihara dealt with it this season. Struck by the way in which camo patterns resembled the clouds in traditional Japanese iconography, he had camouflage-pattern suits woven from kimono silk, using a technique over a thousand years old. And there was real gold thread in the weave to make it something precious, as a way of reversing camo's martial connotations.
Reversal—inside-outside—was the idea behind the army green lining on a checked waistcoat, a navy trench, and a gray flannel parka. When the cuffs on a navy peacoat were rolled back, they revealed beautiful traditional embroidery. Mihara said he wanted to convey the notion that what was uniform on the outside was free inside—like the checked combat suits, a little bit dandy. The parka-poncho and flight jacket-poncho hybrids were the kind of winning tricks that Mihara has pulled off effortlessly in the past.
The show's soundtrack was provided live by "samurai guitarist" Miyavi. That was in keeping with Mihara's commitment to highlighting Japanese artistry, whether as traditional as Hosoo's kimono silks or as modern as Miyavi's sonic bombs. This designer is clearly a cultural touchstone.