Tokyo’s fashion menu gets more appetizing

by Misha Janette

The Michelin Guide top-starred Tokyo as the world’s gastronomic capital this year, but the city’s sartorial scene may now be just as appetizing as it gradually garners more and more global attention with its fashion menu extending from streetwear avant-garde to “quirky-cute” confections and a veritable smorgasbord of couture-like detailing. Altogether, indeed, the Spring/Summer season’s Japan Fashion Week that’s just ended served up a feast of 37 shows over five days — and to savor the best of Tokyo’s fashion fare on offer, simply read on . . .

The ever-popular Mintdesigns kicked off the official JFW schedule on the Midtown Tokyo terrace. Designers Hokuto Katsui and Nao Yagi had Tokyo Collection regulars perking up as they delivered a more sleek and muted Mint than usual, with a hint of architectural lines and sharp folds. Their “Death Pop” theme was a funky take on the ultimate demise of extinction; Stegosaurus and T-Rex bones danced on loose A-line dresses in tones of black and white, and blue and pink. The patterns were a whimsical juxtaposition on ultrafeminine details such as ruffles and ribbons as the label is poised to extend the reach of kawaii (cute) Tokyo fashion by apparently getting distribution in such places as Jordan and Russia.

Bones were also on the mind of Hiroko Ito for her brand Hisui, but these were of the human variety in her collection titled “Physical.” Her details abstractly mimicked the skeletal form, with thick straps draped to form rib cages, and tucks and folds conjuring a spine. While rather chic, Ito couldn’t shy away from a kitsch touch, adding stuffed-animal-type bones stuck to collars and arms.

Also in the vein of kitsch was Writtenafterwards, which told a perplexing story through its creation of a transgender Prince Charming wearing striped seersucker bloomers and a white blouse with metallic bra straps. Both graduates of the renowned Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London, Yoshikazu Yamagata and Kentaro Yamai now work together, often touching on surrealism when showing their sleepwear-for-day collections.

Mikio Sakabe and his wife, Shueh Jen-Fang, were shepherds of a flock of blonde-bobbed models in futuristic career-wear for Mikio Sakabe. “It’s technically a cruise theme, but I was inspired by a ringing sound. You know, when you’ve been out in the sun too long and hear a high metallic pitch in your ear,” explained Sakabe somewhat elusively.

The week closed with the eponymous Ms. Koshino and her legendary Hiroko Koshino brand. She runs a powerhouse that always delivers top-notch cutting-edge collections that must have touched the senses of recent Olympic fencing medalist Yuki Ota watching front and center. The collection was muy caliente (very hot), with elaborate embroidery and bejeweled details on Spanish matador-style cuts. It ended with a pinch of el Japon in dresses made from traditional washi paper decorated with slight and soft calligraphic illustrations.