paris fashion week: tsumori chisato

(images via vogue)

so. here we are again, and i’m sure you’ll remember my insisting on this very thing so many times throughout the seasons (see a/w 2010, s/s 2011, s/s 2012, a/w 2012, resort 2013, s/s 2013, pre-fall 2013), just as i do with many of my favourite labels, but as i set down to research the lovely and amazing (again! as usual!) a/w 2013 tsumori chisato collection presented at paris fashion week, i was appalled by the lack of coverage this veteran designer received in the fashion media. yeah, she may not be as trendy as posh spice at the moment, but surely she deserves some love for a long-standing career?

ah, well, but i guess i should just tell you here that it doesn’t matter, and that we’ll do things ourselves (and with the help of a few benevolent critics), because after all, they’re missing out on what ended up as a delightful romp under the ocean, involving as theme for the upcoming fall, quite a lot of abstract oceanic motifs in cool, watery blues–mainly tiffany and cerulean–spiced up with a lovely tomato red and plenty of black and white for a look at the life of a lobster as seen through an elegant and rather upscale-looking vintage lens.

anyway, i suppose i could allow with some honesty that i do understand where some of the designer’s playful cartoon-ish prints could rub off the wrong way on women not necessarily wanting to project that sort of an image, but i’d say the advantage to the fall range was that it didn’t exactly dip into that juvenilia of yore (okay, maybe it did sometimes), with pieces that appeared quite a lot more grown-up in collage-blocked pieces, or sketchy prints that looked as though they’d been filled in with watercolour markers.

there were even a good number of looks done up in all-black (or simple black-and-white), that had some stately elegance to them, while for those on the more adventurous side, some lavish asian-inspired florals, and, of course, those pieces with the little lobsters emblazoned (or, in the most avant-y looks, appliqued) across them represented the full-on quirky tsumori chisato of old. and no, i don’t think she’s venturing into more commercial territory, i think this simply represented one avenue of her wide offerings (i’d argue wider than people tend to give her credit for).

and so, on the critical front (because, as i said above, goodness! there were a few), we heard from the afp that “(c)ircular shapes and prints inspired by cascading water dominated at Chisato’s richly varied collection presented amid the splendour of a Paris hotel ballroom. ‘The main story is water and the beauty and colour of a waterfall I saw,’ she told AFP backstage. Standing out among the most wearable looks were a silver grey wool coat with gold, black and plum geometric pattern and an Egyptian blue and red velvet dress and matching cape.”

meanwhile, for their part, style set out to query, “(d)o lobsters feel pain? What happens when we die? Is one polka dot a polka dot, or is it just a circle? These are a few of the philosophical questions raised by Tsumori Chisato’s typically eclectic, but unusually chic, new collection. The fact that this collection made heavy use of a lobster motif—part of a larger marine reference—was par for the rather surreal Chisato course. Ditto the fact that the designer decided to elaborate the aquatic stuff with a friendly ghost print, and graphic checks and stripes that looked hand-painted.”

“No,” the site prattled on, “the strange thing here was the sophistication of Chisato’s silhouettes. There was something imposing about her capes, and the dresses with long, slender bodices and fanning tails of ruffles or pleats, and a couple of lapel-free coats with patchwork waves of gold. A red peplum top with crystal-embroidered lobsters was really quite natty, as was an ocean blue quilted jacket with lobsters clawing at its oversize buttons. Inevitably, this Tsumori Chisato woman was a bit of an oddball, but she was an oddball with class.”

and finally, there came wwd, reflecting that the designer “unleashed a Surrealist frenzy for her fall collection, employing decorative lobsters and little ghost motifs with abandon, and still came up with a relatively subdued lineup, by her standards. It was fully animated by the end, but the beginning of the show felt like a glimpse of classic French fare — couture curves, black and white ruffles and big striped knits — seen through Chisato’s merry cartoon lens.”

so there you go. and frankly, i’m kind of surprised that she didn’t get more love for those white-or-cream-and-black striped or polka dot (or monochromatic) looks, several of which opened the show, and were rather high fashion french (as opposed to the more avant-y japanese flavour the designer regularly projects with her work) in nature (although i suppose to some extent wwd did grant this), as i can’t help but wonder if they would have been taken more seriously had they been presented by an ‘it’ designer. but that seems to be what these things are about, anyway, and i’m glad we can just appreciate things for what they are, fancy names aside and all.

(watch the full fashion show video here)

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