paris fashion week: junya watanabe

(images via vogue)

okay, so while it admittedly isn’t exactly easy to roll through the thought processes of designers like junya watanabe (whom, let’s remember, was for a good while affiliated with comme des garçons, of course), but for me that’s always been part of the appeal of the designer’s work–in that each season (see s/s 2011, a/w 2011, s/s 2012, a/w 2012, s/s 2013) we’ve seen him take on a fairly standard idea…and then completely turn it upside-down, as he once again did for the a/w 2013 season at paris fashion week, with a collection that explored measures of rockabilly and motorcycle culture with plenty of denim and leather jackets in action.

and so, as you can imagine, the critics have much to say about this. thus, starting straight off, uk vogue reflected that “this type of punk spirit came with its own distinctive and innovative take, and patchwork and collage, design attributes often explored by Watanabe, featured heavily. For this is a designer and a fashion capital where the nature of fashion – how it should be worn and how it can be worn – is questioned and that idea of nothing being quite as it seems takes hold….Double-breasted macs boasted zips all over them (which looked like moving lips as the models walked down the catwalk), and there came sportier dresses of sweatshirt shapes again worn over leggings.”

“The real high points were the biker jackets and the patchwork jeans, turned-up to reveal a floral interior or heavily worked upon with varying patches and embroideries – these are going to be top of hit lists next season and it’s something that can easily and immediately translate commercially,” they prattled on. “Which was what worked so successfully about this collection – there was less code-deciphering and more straight-forward wearing, jackets and jeans winning us over. More tricky but part of the Watanabe fashion code were trousers that dropped super low at the crotch or splayed to extreme palazzo proportions.”

and elsewhere, cathy horyn of the nyt wrote that the designer “gave his customers a nice bunch of clothes along familiar Watanabe story lines. These included couture-shaped dresses and loose-back jackets that combined leather and tweed, motorcycle jackets mixed with knitting, and cute, low-riding patchwork jeans. Among the fresher looks were skimmy dresses made from oblong scraps of plaid wool and silk, and worn over black tights. Over all, the attitude was more street than couture, with a slight punk feel. Embedded in the show were round leather shoulder bags and a few garments that Mr. Watanabe did with Loewe, the Spanish leather-goods house owned by LVMH.”

for the upcoming autumn, mr. watanabe, declared wwd, “smartly evolved the motorcycle concept in abstract ways, such as placing allover zipper inserts on a tailored coat. Often the vibe was casual while still striking the right edgy tone, i.e., the jackets in heavy men’s wear fabrics that topped baggy jeans in tartan and leopard-print patches. By the show’s end, the singular theme felt repetitive, yet Watanabe still did a good job rendering the look with an apparent effortlessness that proved he’s an easy rider.”

and finally, us vogue was there to inform us that “(t)he sense of polish extended to wool tunic-dresses in diagonally cut checks, worn over cropped leggings, and to the high-heeled patent pumps worn throughout. If Watanabe wanted to demonstrate that he can reach a sophisticated market, then job well done. Yet none of that overbalanced the collection into an alien idiom. Watanabe’s brilliance at cutting something eternally relevant from his fit-and-flare silhouette, his constant updating of biker hybrids, and his eye for the hip separate—those fantastic patched washed denim and tartan boyfriend jeans—powers on, looking even better than ever.”


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