Junya Watanabe’s Techno Couture

Pre-Instagram times, a collection worth thousands of posts (and unforgettable, eye-catchy content…). Back in 2000, Junya Watanabe presented one of his most ethereal collections ever. At first glance, the honeycomb ruffs Watanabe showed in his “Techno Couture” line-up called to mind those seen in Rembrandt portraits. Well, not exactly: those starched confections couldn’t fold and be stored in an envelope, like Watanabe’s ground-breaking designs. They certainly weren’t made of a “techno” fabric like polyester chiffon, from which the designer created his exaggerated take on the ruff, transforming it from an accessory to a garment with an organic-meets-space-age aesthetic. The material might have been unknown in Rembrandt’s time, but its method of production – hand sewing – certainly was. In the above collage, some of my favourites looks from the collection interact with Malwina Konopacka‘s “Forms” collection of ceramic tableware.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki, ceramics and photo by Malwina Konopacka.

Men’s – Classico. Junya Watanabe AW20

Junya Watanabe had one word to sum up his show in praise of Italian men: classico. A group of immaculately grizzled dudes, in different ages, not necessarily models, had nonchalantly strolled his runway, most in trilbies and flat caps. Some of them shook hands, back slapped, even talked to each other. Tweeds were implanted with racing car jackets, gold chains flashed at their necks, paisley scarves were tucked into unbuttoned shirts: Watanabe’s eye-catching guys were off for an aperol meet-up or some very Italian business talk. Anyone who spends time in Italy recognizes these sorts of guys. They are in Milan, Parma, Portofino, Torino, Florence, in every Italian town, possessed of an enviable, effortless style. Italian racing cars were also an inspiration for Junya. Retro-revered typefaces were patch-worked into fragments of padded souvenir jackets on tailoring and they came from Pirelli, Brembo, Abarth and many other companies. Practical, affectionate, good-natured, real – the Watanabe men are exactly that.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Silver Swagger. Junya Watanabe AW19

Remember my post on Brioni’s latest collection? The ‘zaddy’ is in fashion. And for real good, according to Junya Watanabe. Stylish daddies united in the designer’s autumn-winter 2019 collection shown during Paris fashion week. Aged 40 and up, those guys looked far cooler than today’s teen ‘influencers’ (ad that’s a 19-year-old’s honest opinion, by the way). Watanabe focused on reinterpreted workwear and everyday essentials, done in his signature patchwork style. There were those grown-up, day-blazers and not-too-formal shirts, but as well a lot of cropped silhouettes (like one of the corduroy pants) and, oh my, yes, Breton-stripe tops. All that topped with those very well-nurtured beards. Junya called the entire line-up ‘silver swagger’. Jokes aside, but ageism is a problem in modelling across all genders – so seeing an entire collection worn by mature men, who aren’t necessarily professional models, is refreshing. Into this.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.