For what seems like an eternity, kawaii (cute) fashion has ruled the Japanese womenswear roost, and at times it’s looked as if we would never see a return to edgy, chic styles.
But the designers are playing their cool cards now, and they brought sexy back in spades for their spring/summer 2013 collections at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo from Oct. 13-20.
One of the top collections came from Mintdesigns, which is known for colorful, smile-inducing prints and a happy, bouncy runway. This time, though, they turned over a new leaf and brought out a show titled “The Darkside Issue” that included severely monotone patterns of a firing-range bullseye of a rabbit and cascading chairs in metallic jacquards that was brilliantly surreal. “We celebrated our 10th anniversary last season and it was time to try something different,” said designer Nao Yagi.
Another unique show came to FWT courtesy of Alice Auaa, a gothic-lolita label out of Osaka. Since last season they have been showing on the FWT runway with couture pieces reflective of the gothic aesthetic. This season the audience was treated to a dark, nightmarish version of “Alice in Wonderland” where the Queen of Hearts was in drag and a trump guardsman carried around a guillotine-like torture contraption. Altogether, this fascinating look into Gothic-Lolita culture still adequately showcased the vampy clothes that fans clamor for.
In contrast, Cune and Hisui both disguised their dark humor in bright summery clothing. The former, though, may have been trying to pull our collective chain with a show named “Disgustingly Sick” that featured quirky cartoon patterns of fingers with warts, kiwi fruits — and a deformed chick that looked like a lightbulb. “You don’t have to buy our clothing” reads the press release. Hey! Is this reverse psychology?
Hisui also factored-in filthy money — along with fashion and, er, bifurcation — in their clothes that featured patterns of the world’s currencies in jagged heart shapes, and a series of “balancing” dresses that split in half so left and right sides could be mixed and matched with zippers to join them.
Meanwhile, the collection from GVGV was inspired by an Eden of creepy crawlies: Think the aurora colors of beetle shells, exotic markings in oversize patterns, skirt suits and peplums, and “bug-eye” sunglasses in super-trendy shapes. This brand always manages to bring out the trends as well as the audience; it closed out the week and had the most VIPs in tow, including pop star Miliyah Kato.
As good as many shows were, though, the MVP this round goes to Anrealage for the way the label combined the most innovative collection and the most sensible clothing. Titled “Bone,” their show was an exploration of the “exoskeleton” of the clothes that we wear, as imagined by designer Kunihiko Morinaga. Dresses were shown as glow-in-the-dark crinolines, while wardrobe staples such as riders jackets and trenches were given intricate architectural or lattice formations courtesy of high-tech laser cutting.
On top of that, the runway was filled with neon coloring and fantastical Tron-like lighting effects made for a show that was arguably not only the top of the season’s tree in Tokyo, but also in the entire fashion world.
These brands are not newcomers, so it’s highly satisfying to see creative exploration and strength in design come down the Tokyo runway. Now it’s up to buyers and consumers to thrust them from the catwalk into the nation’s closets.