Style & Design

Tokyo fashion week: Womenswear offers a touch of pizzazz

by Misha Janette

Special To The Japan Times

Women wearing their newest spring frocks braved a spell of unusually brisk weather to catch more than 52 Japanese and Asian brands showcasing their wares during the fall/winter 2017-18 installment of Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo from March 20 to 26.

Keita Maruyama and Mintdesigns were the most well-known brands on display, and if there was a noteworthy common thread between the two shows, it was that the traditional runway fashion show is out, while a fun, Instagram-ready installation presentation is most definitely in.

Mintdesigns | MISHA JANETTE

Keita Maruyama invited his audience to a small retro bar in Ginza, where models partied like it was the 1930s. He presented signature retro party dresses adorned in such things as butterflies, blue fur and geometric sequin patterns. Models played card games, laughed, danced and even took selfies for their snap-ready audience.

Mintdesigns’ collection, meanwhile, featured models playing a game of musical chairs in the brand’s newly christened boutique in Aoyama. A multicultural cast of women became animated when the music started, then froze for the gallery when it stopped. The presentation helped showcase the brand’s quirky but wearable line of clothing, which currently includes Britain-inspired patterns of roses and Tartan plaid with a dash of spunk in neon orange.

In general, the fashion industry has recently been questioning whether it is worth spending large amounts of money on runway shows. In fact, neither Keita Maruyama nor Mintdesigns were even on the official schedule, opting to go their own way in smaller venues rather than in the large halls at Hikarie Hall in Shibuya. Japanese fashion has typically focused on the details of a lineup, so showcasing collections in a smaller, more intimate setting seems highly appropriate.


That said, the converse is also true, and there’s still a place for a glamorous runway show in the right context. Buzzed brand Doublet is renowned for its intelligent take on preppy streetwear, but its spirited presentation threw all of that out of the window. The label really came out of its shell, featuring a ’90s-style cyber-rave replete with neon lights and an acid soundtrack during which street-cast models in a diverse range of ethnicities and gender identities hit the runway in white vampire contact lenses, glistening with sweat.

“A fashion show was the only way I could do this type of presentation,” designer Masayuki Ino told me later. “It wouldn’t work with still pictures.”

Chika Kisada
Chika Kisada | MISHA JANETTE

Another designer who is relatively new to the catwalk but still a force to be reckoned with is Chika Kisada. The ballerina-cum-designer dazzled the audience with garments in voluminous black-and-pale-pink tulle that were styled with leather jackets and harnesses for a sweet and spicy take on contemporary womenswear. Kisada has been talked about in fashion circles for several years now, so perhaps this collection is enough to give her the worldwide recognition she deserves.

Akiko Aoki

Last but not least, Akiko Aoki is also worth taking a second look at. She began her career inspired by the pleated skirts and blazers of Japanese school uniforms. Her latest collection sees Aoki streamlining those silhouettes into some truly great fashion items. Wide-legged pleated pants in neon pink and an oversized pleated dress in foam green were standouts, as were tops with bouffant sleeves and apron dresses. Aoki touched on a number of contemporary trends during her collection, proving that Japanese women still want to give their wardrobes a little pizzazz.