Had there been show notes at Junya Watanabe’s brilliant show today, they might have said something like this, ‘Subverting Savile Row and all things traditional’ because that is what he did.
He took traditional items like the tailored suit, the gentleman’s silk dressing gown, the beige mac, the Breton top, the tea dress, the argyle sweater and put them through a filter of Japanese cool and British punk.
The models stormed out, their hair painted orange, violet, pink or green and eyes as black as ravens. Their footwear followed the typical Junya code - either flat black rubberised boots or traditional polished leather men’s lace ups or riding boots. And juxtaposed in between the rebel hair and the conservative footwear were the clothes.
The tailoring played with subtle masculine-feminine details – while the fabric was mannish the cut of those jackets and coats gently shaped the waist and smoothed over the hips. From the front, one fluttering tea dress looked sweet almost mumsy, but from the back where it had been sliced to reveal a tailored skirt beneath, it looked naughty, disobedient. The surprise with the coats was that there was no surprise – just really ‘normal’ gorgeously tailored men’s coats for women.
A nice ‘trick’ came with the distortion of a typical beige mac where the ends of the sleeves had been sewn into the pockets, so in fact the mac was a cape and possibly not a very practical one. But the concept, played out on a series of macs, gave Junya the opportunity to riff and experiment (and show off) his imaginative skill with the sheers.
At the end, there were very beautiful velvet devore (rapidly becoming one of the fabrics of choice this season) dresses – that is when the velvet is ‘burnt out’ to reveal a transparent pattern. These came in vivid copper, red, piercing blue and hot pink and perhaps worn with a long camel coat shrugged on the shoulders.
It didn’t feel as if Junya wanted to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck with this collection. It was more like he just wanted to provide some beautiful clothes. Which is what he did.