Tokyo Fashion Week Comes To A Close
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Being the last major day of Tokyo fashion week, it was a coup to see a show that trounced all others. It was Alice Auaa (pictured), a gothic Lolita brand that began as a fringe label. The show told the story of a surreal Alice in Wonderland where the Cheshire Cat wears red plaid overalls and the Queen of Hearts goes in drag. That could be seen in the details such as accordion pleats on early 1900s-style silk pajamas and voluminous bustles on black va-va-voom gowns.
Beautiful People is Japan’s answer to high-end American sportswear, even though the inspiration for the Spring 2013 collection was retro happy-go-lucky Japan. Hip beatnik styles got a pick-me-up for today, meaning circle skirts with metallic foil treatments, cigarette pants in pastel floral prints, and camel-colored leather jackets.
For the final show of the season, G.V.G.V. showed a collection based on an Eden of tropical insects, a concept that came through in pieces like the shiny aurora leather jacket with beetle “wings” or the bright abstract patterns like the markings of exotic critters. The devil-horned hair and mad scientist sunglasses brought out a cunning side to the soft peplum skirts and A-line dresses, and this matched with super-platform creeper shoes made the collection inherently Tokyo style.
Wild street style may be what helps to keep Tokyo on the map, but the wearable, cosmopolitan looks that defined day four of Tokyo fashion week are Japanese fashion’s real bread and butter. The collections showed a sophisticated side aimed at the everyday Tokyoite.
Both Yasutoshi Ezumi and A Degree Fahrenheit went the clean, minimalist route. Ezumi’s wardrobe of cozy, draped knits and A-line dresses in windowpane lace came in black, white, and cerulean blue. Fahrenheit’s went all white, but even its asymmetrical pieces weren’t too outré to hit the office in.
Somarta’s collection of separates in murky greens and pinks picked up the digital printing that’s made such an impact on runways worldwide. Tamae Hirokawa’s digitized versions of flowers and fairies toyed with both Art Nouveau and Japonisme. “It was interesting to reinterpret Japanese design that had been interpreted by the West,” the designer said. “I was reintroduced to its beauty.”
The highlight of the day was Mint Designs (pictured), which by all accounts is considered one of those “quirky” brands on the schedule. The quirk was still present, courtesy of jacquards of rabbits in the crosshairs and the like, but there was a new maturity in cocooning shapes and tailored suits.
Among peacocks, it’s the males who flaunt their colors. In Tokyo, judging by the runways, the human guys do, too. At Yoshio Kubo’s men’s show (pictured) had pomp to spare, with models stomping down the runway in graphic goodies, blinged-out charm necklaces, and high-top sneakers.
That’s not to suggest the Japanese are all about streetwear. Ato Matsumoto of Ato has always been the go-to for tailoring, though he, too, presents it with a sporty twist. After an opening section of casual looks in dusty colors (shown with oversized satin backpacks), he moved on to his signature business attire. But bonded seams gave the jackets here an even sharper edge.
It was a major news when it was announced that the original designer of Dresscamp, Toshikazu Iwaya, would be returning to helm the brand after four years of absence. He was known for his outlandish takes on silhouettes and color mixes, but instead of a wildly over-the-top collection, he gave the audience real, digestible clothing—albeit still with zip. A neon pink dress with cocoon sleeves opened the show and it closed with a retro letterman’s jacket designed with sleeves sporting cascades of metallic fringe—the best piece saved for last.
The morning at Tokyo fashion week started off with a horror scene: Black slashed and shredded dresses and knit tops stalked down the runway at Nozomi Ishiguro Tambourine (left). Titled Psycho Killer, the show was set to the Talking Heads hit of the same name that urged everyone to run far, far away. A happier mood prevailed when the palette brightened up to cream, punched up with garden floral prints. These were used in abundance in the menswear as well as the womenswear; the Japanese fashion guy is far from afraid of even full-on flowers.
The color story continued later in the evening at Fur Fur, where light dresses printed with watercolor paintings and doodles splashed the runway with pastels. It’s a rare turn for this brand, which is a pioneer of the Japanese “forest girl” style that typically sticks to neutral colors and more cozy grannyish silhouettes. Instead, this was a romantic collection for girls who might choose to frolic in the garden over the forest.
But the highlight of the day—in both senses of the word—was Anrealage, which presented a fresh view on what can be done with laser-cutting technology. The collection began with a parade of glow-in-the-dark crinolines that were followed by pieces that echoed their “structure” but were flattened on the body. Intricate latticework and Art Deco blueprint patterns in searing neon colors were cut into shapes of trenchcoats and suit jackets.
There couldn’t be a more fitting venue for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo than Shibuya’s brand-spanking new Hikarie shopping complex. Shibuya is the main artery to all of the most influential neighborhoods of style; directly to the east is ritzy Aoyama and to the north is Harajuku, where street trends grow into globally recognized phenomenons. As we’ve seen three days into the shows, streetwear is where the action is at Tokyo fashion week.
It began with Facetasm on Saturday, which proved just how experimental the Japanese designers get with sportswear, especially when it comes to men’s clothing. Here, colorful layering was key, with the best looks featuring boxy cocoon tops over shorts and long johns, wrapped up with a gang of sleeves woven into each other and tied around waists. Phenomenon (pictured) also leads in the men’s streetwear arena. Designer Takeshi “Big O” Osumi matched floral garden prints with camouflage on dress shirts and jacquard dinner jackets, but kitsched them out with pieces accented with giant tie-dye splotches and cloud patterns.
In a completely different vein are Matohu and Shiroma, both taking inspiration from artisanal techniques of yore and restructuring them for twenty-first-century consumption. The former featured a collection of traditional robes created from textiles that resembled car tire treads or retro printed curtains. Shiroma, meanwhile, put out a series of looks created from Japanese washi paper that had been ingeniously manipulated to look like crocodile leather.