Fashion Week Tokyo: Crazy good times make the womenswear cut

by Misha Janette

Special To The Japan Times

If there is one brand that the world needs to stop, drop and roll its collective mouse over online to check out every season, it’s Anrealage. We have come to always expect something fascinating and innovative from this techie-experimental label — and at Fashion Week Tokyo this time around it again did not disappoint.

By innovatively infusing fabrics with photo-chroma technology (as in indoor-outdoor sunglasses), designer Kunihiko Morinaga was able to make white clothing awash with bright colors and patterns in high-light situations, then magically return them to white at the flip of a switch. It is a feat of imagination and skill that should see Morinaga competing on the global stage very soon.

Gothic-lifestyle brand Alice Auaa also had one of the most impressive shows of the week, bringing some much-needed fantasy to the runway. Metallic steampunk crinolines, a giant wearable helium spider body and lots of black lace were among the characters in a story of a Greek goddess who transforms into an arachnid. The clothes are all handmade couture, by appointment only, that are created at Alice Auaa’s new salon on Tokyo’s swanky Omotesando boulevard.

This FWT season may have seen the first-ever runway show by Fleamadonna, but the South Korea-based brand is a shoo-in for Tokyo infamy with its cute, street-ready designs. She imagined a rich fashionista whose family falls from fortune’s grace — but this girl just can’t give up her fashion addiction. “It’s inspired by Hollywood starlets, actually,” said designer Jei Kim without offering up the names of any specific marooned muses (but we can guess).

Meanwhile, trendy label G.V.G.V. has always blurred the boundaries between tough and feminine styles, often coming up with a well-marbled melding of the two. This time it was a retro encounter of the sexy kind, with harness accents, fetish lace-up boots and a brilliant print of a pinup dominatrix that covered secretary suits. The skirts were quite tight, but it was an otherwise casual collection dominated by tent-size structured sweatshirts.

Items along the latter lines were first popularized by French brand Balenciaga, but have recently been picked up in Tokyo by many designers thanks to their allusion to 1980s culture and what avatars in old 8-bit video games wore. This wildly popular Tokyo trend also reminds us that the silhouettes preferred by Japanese customers often stray from those of their overseas counterparts, for whom oversize tops, covered shoulders, non-existent waistlines and plenty of leg are de rigeur.

In that vein, Mintdesigns always has the local woman’s wardrobe covered, with its conservative clothing that comes with a quirky twist.

This time, that was evident in their never-ending supply of funny graphics, patterns and comical taglines like “Happy Mistake” woven into luxury jacquards. Imagine dresses and setups that speak 1,000 words so you don’t have to.

Speaking of not speaking, Nozomi Ishiguro sent two collections down the runway and refused to speak to the press about either of them. For his Haute Couture line, he created skirts and tops out of giant deconstructed stuffed animals, where shabby patchworked heads and tails twisted around the body like an overprotective blanket. Perhaps this was a nod to not getting too comfortable in adult life.

It was then much more topsy-turvy with his Tambourine diffusion line, where acid-color collage prints on asymmetrical pieces appeared on models who stumbled down the runway as if they had a few screws loose.

As Ishiguro has suggested in the past, he may be hinting here again that we’re never going to survive, especially in fashion — “until and unless we get a little bit crazy.