Disco Noir. Junya Watanabe SS21

Disco is having a rebirth in music – just think of Jessie Ware, Róisín Murphy or Dua Lipa’s latest records. During lockdown, we’ve all dreamed of a care-free party, so no wonder why some designers chose this escapist, joyful theme for the spring-summer 2021 collections.  Discussing his latest outing, Junya Watanabe’s press notes said, “It is a collection that reproduces the costumes worn by the stars in my memories. My memories are monochrome, and I created a photo session with four fictional stars.” The black and white images feature an assortment of apparently black or white looks, plus one or two more in silver. Nearly all of them are sparkling with sequins dresses that get the party started. The 1960s A-line gowns that close the look book, but also the trenchcoats that are integral to Watanabe’s oeuvre, have a disco noir feeling about them. Last season Watanabe paid punkish tribute to Debbie Harry. Though the Spangles may owe a debt to the Supremes, these muses are more abstract. In its spotlighting of sequins, the collection feels of a piece with earlier Watanabe shows that had singular focal points of their own, like army fatigues and puffers. His new season clothes have an easy-to-wear aspect that many have keyed into in this COVID year. I’s a whole lot of caftan-like shapes and leggings, essentially and a stripped-down outing by house standards. The most complex shapes were the coats whose hems looped up, creating generous volumes. But in tricking everything out in spangles Watanabe turned the concept of #WFH-wear on its head. Comfort, he gets. Hibernation? Not so much. Sequins are associated with happier times. If and when the world opens up, Watanabe’s women will be ready to loose themselves on the dancefloor.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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.