Big Red. Valentino Pre-Fall 2019

While some designers (well, I specifically think about the two that landed in every industry news headline last week) fail to understand and respect other cultures than theirs, Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli doesn’t have that problem. His pre-fall 2018 collection for both, women and men, was presented in Tokyo a few days ago and it was far, far away from getting trapped in stereotypical thinking. The first dozen of looks was a punch of red: parkas, furs, florals, duvet jackets, sheer frocks, shirts, loosely fitted pants, everything in red. The next 30 or 40 looks were mostly black or white, with a few pastel exceptions. The closing looks – made for the red carpet – were all about red, again. But we’re speaking of Valentino red, which is a deep and absorbing shade. Lots and lots of tulle and silk was used for each of these evening gowns. And they did look exquisite, couture-level. Shortly, it seemed to be a regular Valentino collection that could be equally presented in Paris, New York or Rome. That was Piccioli’s goal: to show that today’s Valentino is an international brand, suited for women and men from very different destinations. Still, there were some Japan-related hints behind the collection. They were subtle and well-balanced. Piccioli is drawn to the Japanese art of kintsugi, of repairing the cracks of broken porcelain with a molten gold effect that adds new layers of beauty, “so the most broken pieces become the most precious—the opposite to Western culture. Time adds something to beauty.” Did he mean the ever-changing codes of Valentino? Or maybe that was a light metaphor for the art of autumn layering the designer mastered so well this season? Pierpaolo was also moved by this one aspect of Japanese culture that is extremely alive especially today – specifically “the symbolic act of dressing up. People in the street dress like a ceremony, like a ritual”. Other than Moncler, the designer did two more special collaborations this season – both with Japanese visionaries of their own crafts. Renaissance art appeared in the purses produced in collaboration with Undercover’s Jun Takahashi, which will only be sold in Valentino’s Tokyo flagship store. The playfully surreal self-portraiture of the 21-year-old artist Izumi Miyazaki appeared on loose dresses and parkas – it certainly brought more vigour to the line-up. It’s not the first time when I say this: Valentino blooms with Pierpaolo in charge of it.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

When in Tokyo with Alessandro

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Alessandro Michele‘s creative narration for Gucci isn’t only reflected in his eccentric collections, but also in campaigns, which are traditionally photographed by Glen Luchford. For autumn-winter 2016, the whole story was set in Tokyo, featuring a ‘dekoratora‘ (a Japanese light truck, obviously), traditional ‘ryokan‘ house and a lot of kawaii moments. There’s a distinct clash between harmony and chaos, modern and traditional, so contrasts which are often messed up by Michele in his collections. But what really makes this Petra Collins-starring campaign great are the old-school, film-like lines which tell us what the youthful, Gucci crowd senses in every moment of being in Tokyo.

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Miu Miu in Aoyama

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Herzog & de Meuron just presented the anticipated Miu Miu store in Tokyo’s Aoyama district, where every major label has their own store. I must admit, the effect is ground-breaking. A minimal pagoda form, applied with see-through windows, massive concrete and neutral attitude seem to look super effective with the classy, Miu Miu-ish wallpapers and romantic silhouettes. What I love about this place is the fact that it lacks logos and all these flashy advertisments – it’s calm, austere and peaceful. And I can already imagine this appealing building being surrounded by blooming sakura trees…

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Tokyo. Dior Pre-Fall’15

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Raf Simons seems to have two personalities- one at his namesake label for men, where he doesn’t care about the rules; another at Dior, where he definitely obeys the bosses. Last season (SS15), in my opinion was trash. I truly couldn’t understand it. It felt like Simons explained it only by “oh, look, it’s like this, but look at those couture embroideries”… yawn. Come on, who cares about embroideries, if the clothes are so boring? Thankfully, Dior thought of something new for the house, which was smart. The pre-fall 2015 which was presented few days ago was organised in Tokyo- the place were Dior has it’s boutiques on nearly every street. Commercially, this is genius for the house. But for fashion? Raf Simons had his model walk zigzags in a huge sumo wrestling arena, inspired by the scenes of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner movie. With fuses of futuristic influences (that badly reminded me of Paco Rabanne gold years) like silver sequined turtlenecks, jacquard motifs and wax cotton coats, Simons brought a lifey twist into his Dior timeline. And what’s interesting although the fact the show was in Tokyo, Japan, we didn’t notice even one kimono, manga print or anything of Japanese stereotypical fashion. Definitely, Raf looked at Japanese woman of the future- stomper boots, wide trousers and clean lines with neon elements. Plus, corn-rows and super kawaii eye-brows. Personally, I have no offend to Raf Simons- sometimes, he is just not on the point. However, this dynamic show proved one thing: not only that Raf has better and worse days in his life, but also that Tokyo is an amazing, energetic city of fashion.

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Just to be in the Japan mood- here are some amazing vintage posters from Wafu Works…

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Kenta Matsushige

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From left to right: clippings of video by Augment5, Chichu art museum by Tadao Ando,  Lee U-fan museum (both museums are on Naoshima island) and photos of the piece presented.

Kenta Matsushige have just been announced as the winner of Hyeres 2014 Fashion Festival. The Japanese designer from the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne couture body was chosen from a shortlist of 10 other young designers, who also showed their collections this weekend. Inspired by the architecture of Japanese museums and the augmented reality videos that allow virtual 2D or 3D elements to be added to our natural perception of reality, his minimalistic Hinabi collection made the jury choose him to win.Kenta described his work as “a modern, urban collection that respects the peace of the countryside and its traditions,” inspiration that has won him the top prize at the Festival, including a €15,000 grant and the chance to work with the French Ateliers des Métiers d’Art artisan organization, who will finance the development of five looks to the tune of €15,000. What do you think of the designer and his collection?

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