Paris Fashion Week: Junya Watanabe Review

Junya Watanabe’s cocktail of denim, leather and Loewe

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When Junya Watanabe’s rebel spirit took to the catwalk yesterday – punkish hair, red lips, zippered leather, deconstructed denim, a patch of tartan here, a splash of check there - the result was quintessential Junya: the energy, colour, complexity, wit and succinctness with which he tells his story every season is truly something to behold.

It is also worth noting that he is watched by an industry who follow his every stitch. Renditions of Junya Watanabe don’t just crop up on the high street from time to time, but make their way into other designers’ collections; his influence, like that of his mentor, Comme des Garcons’ Rei Kawakubo, is not to be underestimated.

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So it was hardly surprising to see him working here with Loewe, the Spanish leather brand, known for its boxy ‘Amazona’ bags (and many others) that were seen on Junya’s catwalk, provided courtesy of Loewe in celebration of their collaboration. Watanabe also showed soft, slouchy shapes worn on the shoulder of neat tweed check dresses, designed by him, that had been made by Loewe for the show. (The second part of this collaboration, consisting of clothing and bags, in tweed styles, will be launched in both Comme des Garcons and Loewe stores in September).

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And so to the denim – a gift for any young high street label worth its salt. Jeans, cut slouchy or slim, came with colourful patchworks of tartans, florals and spots - like a mini scrapbook of his favourite patterns, having previously devoted entire collections to all three. The jeans, had a whiff of 1980s non-conformist teenager about them, particularly the ones lacquered in red vinyl. Perhaps this was because they were worn with – oddly - polite high-heeled patent pumps; as if said teenager had put on her mother’s shoes for kicks.

His other big focus was the biker jacket – another Junya passion, re-explored and deconstructed here to within an inch of its life. He spliced leather with heritage tweeds, checks, stripes and denim; he took the body-work of a biker jacket and turned it into a coat, or took the biker’s zips and made them a feature on narrow tweed coats. By the end of the show, the black leather biker ‘jackets’ had turned into full leather dresses, delicate-backed coats, even a cape.

It will be interesting to see who takes what from this season’s inspiring, creative Junya collection. Just remember who did it first.

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