Style & Design

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo: packing a punch

by Misha Janette

Special To The Japan Times

The womenswear showcased during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo marched to its own beat, with eye-opening collections coming from far-flung ends of the fashion spectrum. From stark minimalism to ’80s idols, the collections delivered a pinata of fashion treats, and since the seasons change faster than you can say oshare (fashionable), let’s jump right into the very best of the best.

Top-class brand Facetasm arguably delivered one of the most impressive show of the week, with designer Hiromichi Ochiai’s penchant for mixing streetwear and kitsch with avant-garde flourishes akin to something Comme des Garcons is famous for producing. His collection utilized a wild assortment of items and accessories, including colorful toy necklaces and punchy sneakers alongside cascades of jewel-toned pleats. While some in the audience might have raised their eyebrows at the appearance of fur-backed T-shirts and rooster feather skirts on the runway, their concern should have evaporated by the addition of edgy Tokyo streetwear that bristled with attitude.

Sretsis, a Thailand-based brand that does camera-ready kawaii (cute) better than the youth in Tokyo, would take home the best in show award for the week without too much trouble. The collection was revealed in a presentation titled “Runaway Rum,” a show inspired by roller derbies of the ’80s complete with shiny helmets and boots that looked like cartoon rollerskates. Superstar models Yuka Mizuhara and Tina Tamashiro joined indie synth outfit Plasticzooms to deliver a show that truly rocked.

Ne-Net, meanwhile, produced a show that paid special homage to Japanese tradition and spirituality. Models wore geta sandals, which they politely removed before stepping onto a specially designed polka-dot tatami runway (tatami is the famous local good of designer Kazuaki Takashima’s hometown, Yatsushiro, in Kumamoto Prefecture). The collection featured profoundly traditional motifs such as mythical demons, Shinto gods, traditional stitch patterns and images of Mount Fuji. The inclusion of such images can sometimes come across as being campy or exploitative. In this case, however, it came together in such a casual and nonchalant way that was delightful.

Dresscamp proved to be another highlight, producing a collection that was so preposterous it edged on being branded as arrogant. In fashion terms, however, you could go as far as to say it was “perfect.” The brand upped the ante from previous collections, featuring bouffant ballgowns comprising of rainbow-speckled tulle and flower-blanketed bodices, as well as psychedelic tropical patterns and dresses that included the phrase “Queen” to drive the diva attitude home. “I want to keep going in this hard-core direction,” designer Toshikazu Iwaya said at the show.

Mintdesigns typically produces creations that are quirky by nature, but this time the brand lurched toward the “quaint.” Renowned for cute textile patterns on its designs in the past, its new line was much more straightforward, with plaid and chevron stripes featuring prominently. It was a throwback to retro domesticity, a time when life was much simpler. Pajamas, pillow clutches and motifs of a woman baking would have made an excellent statement on society several decades ago but the only real assertion here is that it seems to be acceptable to walk around in bedwear during daylight hours.

Ending the week on a high note was newcomer Taro Horiuchi, who presented an impressively tight collection in his first appearance at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo. The designer was inspired by Belgian artist Panamarenko, who is famous for his work with airplanes — none of which are able nor constructed to leave the ground. Horiuchi injected a touch of 1960s futurism into his creations that could be compared to French designer Andre Courreges and produced such chic items as tent dresses of white mesh on top of metallic greens and blues that resemble the northern lights. The latter half of the show comprised pieces that included a lot more ’60s-style prints of botanicals and radio towers in yellow and magenta. He presented each item with shoes, bags and accessories, creating a consumer-ready look the vast majority of designers seemed to have overlooked.

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