September 15, 2014 by
Wearing Comme des Garcons SHIRT FW2009; Claudia Ligari trousers; Rick Owens geobaskets
Comme des Garçons SHIRT is, you guessed it, a line for shirts made primarily for men, alongside various easily palatable accessories such as belts and sneakers. The main selling points of the shirts are the quirky prints and graphic elements that make typical oxford shirts less boring. One can argue it’s not much more than a money-making machine à la CdG’s Play line, but I can appreciate some of the creativity that goes into many of these shirts, so much so that I bought a couple of them. I can’t say that everything’s a gem, but there have been notable printed shirts released in the past. It helps that there have been eye-catching campaigns done in the past that cemented its brand image.
Tags: Claudia Ligari, Comme des Garçons, Rick Owens Category: Designer Talk, Wear
September 2, 2014 by
Biker jackets, specifically the double rider, has become a ubiquitous garment in fashion. It is exemplified by the asymmetrical placement of the main zipper, wide lapels with snap buttons and a pocket flap on one side. Another name it often goes by would be the Perfecto. The jacket was first released by Irving Schott of Schott NYC back in 1928, but its popularity was only cemented in the 50s after it was worn by the likes of Marlon Brando and James Dean in their respective movies, both with rebellious undertones (Automobiles! Penis! POWWAAHHHHHH!!!).
Wearing Junya Watanabe FW2007 jacket, Comme des Garçons SS2004 skirt, Rick Owens turbo boots
Fast forward almost a century later, every other designer has made some rendition of the Perfecto, from Rick Owens, Margiela, Undercover, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, to all the high street stores you can ever think of. No complaints there since it’s my favourite type of garment. However in my opinion the best interpretations have always been done by Junya Watanabe. As a designer, Watanabe isn’t as widely recognised as Rei Kawakubo, but he is a meister in his own right. On the mens side, he is mostly known for his interpretations of Americana workwear, with plenty of checks and patchworks. For womens however, his works are far more varied. The central themes of his collections tend to revolve around masterful drapery, patchwork denim, reconstructions of military garments, reinterpreted tailored garments such as the trench, and the prevalence of various forms of motorcycle jackets. Conceptually he doesn’t push the envelope as far as Kawakubo, consequently making his runway clothes more wearable yet no less visually arresting.
Watanabe first started working for Comme des Garçons as a pattern maker in 1984, before being promoted to chief designer of the Tricot line three years later. He established his own line in 1993 assisted by another Comme des Garçons protegé Chitose Abe who now helms Sacai. There is not much online evidence of his works before the turn of the millenium, but I can safely say that he first started pushing his biker jackets aggressively from Fall/Winter 2007 onwards.
As a designer, Watanabe is far more interested in manipulating synthetics. With the exception of Fall/Winter 2011 in which he sent down plenty of outerwear in genuine leather, his jackets are mostly made of PVC or PVC-coated cotton. In the Fall/Winter 2007 collection, he showcased a few versions of ‘faux leather’, such as the one soft thin one I’m wearing in this post, or a tough one that closely resemble goatskin, which you can see here. Similar versions made their appearance again in the Spring/Summer 2014 show. Such was the significance of his biker jackets that they were reproduced in leather for the collaboration with Spanish leather maison Loewe. For his Spring/Summer 2012 and Fall/Winter 2014 collections, he juxtaposed feminine frou frou onto the traditionally masculine Perfecto, blurring the line between gendered clothing (cues gender and body politics).
It is his fixation with biker jackets that drew my attention to Junya Watanabe’s works. As an avid collector of this particular garment, one can’t help but to appreciate the intricacies and innovation that are needed to re-invent them. Large maisons like Balenciaga continue to churn out the same iteration every season, with little to no variations in design (change in zipper colour doesn’t count!), simply because it’s their best selling garment and can continue to ride on its popularity to survive. Wearing Watanabe’s complicated jackets do take some mental investment because they are so in your face. Mental in the sense that one has to have the ability to ignore the stares from strangers, the same kind that would be given to anyone who suddenly bursts into song and dance in the subway. Whatever your tolerance to outré clothing is, Watanabe’s works deserve more recognition than what he’s currently receiving.
Tags: Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, Rick Owens Category: Designer Talk, Wear
August 23, 2014 by
Wearing Issey Miyake coat, Yohji Yamamoto skirt, and Margiela tabi boots.
August 13, 2014 by
It has been almost thirty years since Rei Kawakubo shook the Parisian runway with her anti-fashion aesthetics. Alongside Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto, she paved the way for younger Japanese visionaries such as Junya Watanabe and Jun Takahashi (of Undercover), and more recently, another rising star on the Parisian runway – Chitose Abe of Sacai.
Although Sacai only joined the fashion week parade about four to five years ago, Abe has been in the business before the turn of the millenium. She began working under Rei Kawakubo in her twenties as a pattern-cutter, then went on the assist Junya Watanabe since the inception of his own line – the extent to which was not quite revealed. Fast forward to 1999, Abe made the decision to leave the Comme des Garçons family and branched out on her own. Fifteen years later, Sacai has become one of the most sought-after shows in Paris.
I was drawn immediately to Sacai as soon as I spotted her recurring interpretations of motorcycle jackets. I have always been very fond of Junya Watanabe’s deconstructed versions, so it was most pleasant to come across someone else who is fixated on the same garment. For FW2012, there was a strong emphasis on outerwear. In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, she stated that the collection was divided into four categories – The Trench, the Country Life, Sports and Biker.
Soon after I had seen the collection online, I had the opportunity to try on the very same motorcycle jacket I fell in love with in the show. I did expect a hefty price tag, considering that it was made of heavy substantial cowhide, complete with detachable wool-ruffled lining. It was apparent that the quality of craftsmanship matched that of CdG’s and Junya Watanabe’s. Inevitably I had to bring it into the changing room before I could check the price, saving the embarrassment of keeling over in shock in front of the sales assistant. True enough, it cost the equivalent of over three thousand American dollars. Welp. It was comparable to the high price point of CdG’s FW2013 collection, but a year before that, CdG’s and Junya Watanabe’s price points on the whole were only two thirds of Sacai’s. As of 2014, Sacai has now been stocked in more online stores than ever before, and it’s easy to compare the price differences between the various Japanese brands. (Of course none of them comes close to Yohji’s, but that’s another story). It’s no surprise really, since Sacai is after all a smaller brand, thus needing to charge more to make up for the smaller production volume.
Her first foray as an independent designer began with knitwear. “I began my own label with knitwear because I could do it all by myself but then became a signature,” explained Abe. Like many of her Japanese peers, she chooses not to hop from one trend to another. Instead she is constantly evolving and strengthening her creative vision with every new collection. Abe said that the most important lesson she’s learned when working under Rei Kawakubo and Junya Watanabe was, “the importance and gratification of designing clothes that have not been done before”. Armed with that belief, she carved her signature look based on the idea of juxtaposition and dissection of traditional garments. For example, in her FW2014 collection, she added elements of a biker jacket onto a peacoat, as if they’ve been torn apart and fused together in orderly chaos. Her clothes are often divided into front and back sections which appear to be two different garments stitched together at the side seams. It’s always a pleasant surprise to see what the back of each garment looks like whenever the models do a U-turn on the runway. There are plenty of designers out there who love to mix the feminine and masculine, but Sacai’s version appealed to me tremendously due to her finesse in volume and silhouettes. If I may be so bold as to personify the Sacai girl, she would be the captain of the cheerleading team who rides a badass motorcycle.
Like her mentors, she too understood the importance of balancing business and creativity. It may explain why she focuses much less on theatrics and more on wearability. “I believe that fashion is not art and should be functional. I always make sure that my designs for the Sacai collection are wearable and the comfort for the person is extremely important to me,” when asked about her design process. Being a working mother probably plays a part in the push for wearability as well.
Sacai Jumper/Coat Hybrid, available on Colette for 575 Euro
As a label, Sacai is probably not one I have the financial capability to buy into just yet, mostly because the jackets I fall in love with usually cost four grands and upwards. But for those who do have the means, I hope you will consider supporting the brand, to a healthy extent of course. I strongly believe Chitose Abe deserves a slice of the fashion pie, preferably taken from lacklustre brands who are primarily relying on branding and advertising to sell.
Tags: Sacai Category: Designer Talk
August 11, 2014 by
Wearing: Yohji Yamamoto cardigan; Comme des Garçons wool and linen skirt from FW1996; Margiela tabi boots.
You can see a close up of the textures here.
Tags: Comme des Garçons, margiela, Yohji Yamamoto Category: Wear