If one designer can make the most vilified, the most ephemeral, the most transitory of things that are normally passed by (while perhaps being scowled at) into full-blown fashion statements that are desirable, monumental, and skilled (leaving you deeply impressed), it is Junya Watanabe. And he did it again in his show today.
Hippies, crusty ravers, anybody who does not wash their hair, claiming, “It will clean itself,” the idea of going to Goa, macramé, home crafts, didgeridoos…and so on. This could be seen as a collection and a show incorporating some of this reviewer’s most vilified things. And yet that would only be on the surface; in the hands of Junya Watanabe, such horrors became a font of fantastic inspiration from which much else followed.
Take as a starting point the humble T-shirt tassel—that fringed decoration most beloved in the beach T-shirt trade and by the bored home customizer. Watanabe used it heavily, immaculately, and to extravagant effect. While many have been using tight accordion pleating for architectural experimentation this season, Watanabe used fringing. It started in black T-shirting silhouettes, fringed to long, extravagant proportions, some precisely braided and beautifully draped. By the time those looks turned beige and gray, there was a sense of the oddly ancient and classical to the collection. The hair might have started as that of the crusty raver, with messy small braids piled altogether, but the connotations were turning into something else entirely.
This is when Aphex Twin’s song “Digeridoo” launched in with complete insistence. It turns out that Richard D. James (Aphex Twin) is not such a fan of the instrument either, and he labored hard to create a similar drone electronically. If anything is a metaphor for what Junya Watanabe does, it’s that. In this collection there was a link between past, present, and future; it was the idea of something changing but forever remaining the same that was defined as “Folklore” by Watanabe.
Now the fringing took on the connotations of the American West, and was simultaneously evocative in the Richard Avedon, Ralph Lauren, and Native American sense. The fringing was joined by delicate, horizontal cascading cuts. Suede, or rather suedette, took the place of buckskin, entirely elegant, especially in one open-backed, floor-length coat-dress. Watanabe’s excellent denim once again featured, and it led back to one of the new folklore figures encountered earlier. Here, wearing extravagant pheasant-feather headdresses, Watanabe’s new tribe finished, with the music swiftly cut. It was a journey through both the playful and profound.
Ballerinas for Bonbon. Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren are launching a new perfume. The ad campaign for Bonbon was projected onto the backdrop at the end of their show tonight; it stars a seated Edita Vilkeviciute, her naked body painted in pink bows the same color and shape as the fragrance bottle, which sits perched on her lap.
In a sweet little piece of cross-promotion, the designers cast members of the Dutch National Ballet as models, dressing them in leotard-tight dresses in nude shades of latex that looked remarkably like real skin, some of which were hand-painted with trompe l’oeil tattoos of ruffles, birds, or those bows. In a week when Schiaparelli was back on the Couture calendar after sixty-odd years, Horsting and Snoeren were the ones to embrace surrealism, draping folds of latex from tattooed bird’s beaks and bows. One short-sleeve asymmetric-hem dress looked like a high-cut bodysuit with a skirt slung over just one hip, leaving the other exposed.
What was rubber and what was flesh? You couldn’t tell. It was the kind of head game that the Dutch duo has always loved.
In recent years, the received wisdom on Couture was that it was basically just a promotional device for a brand’s perfumes. Viktor & Rolf proved the cliché true. Our guess is they got some perverse pleasure out of that.
For Fall, Pringle of Scotland’s Massimo Nicosia was thinking back. “It’s a small-towner moving to the big city,” he said. The smooth-faced boys lined up in his presentation today seemed to be fledglings making their first forays into the wild. Fashion is here to help them. “It’s about building a wardrobe,” Nicosia said. Sophistication is introduced piece by piece.
The charm of the collection was the way Nicosia hit at the juncture of innocence and experience. The guys were dressed in blue-chip cashmeres and trim scuba-jersey trousers, but still they wore their stubby, lug-soled shoes with what looked like little white gym socks. One had on a velvet evening jacket, but on top he tossed over an oversize bomber—one made, it appeared on closer inspection, of knit, and fully reversible to boot. A styling tactic it may be, but it gave the collection a dose of the street-friendly vibe that is the stock-in-trade of most London menswear shows. That it was delivered at a presentation by one of the U.K.’s historic brands gave Pringle a boost that, at the very least, made it seem more sociable with its neighbors in London’s jam-packed schedule. For any Pringle fans possessed of stiffer upper lips, the racks nearby were hung with plenty of lovely, often technically savvy sweaters, like a hand-knit fisherman’s sweater with embroidered rope overlay, and a laser-cut mesh whose holes were woven together with gossamer cellophane yarn.