In the spectacle that is a Junya Watanabe catwalk show, Fall 2015 was no exception. It was however, exceptional. As a designer, Watanabe has mastered his own unique design trick. Work one idea until it cannot be turned upside down or inside out any longer. Every season Watanabe works his idea, however common, utilitarian or complex it may be, he works it through and through, as though it were an urgent problem in which life itself hung in the balance. You can feel this push and pull in every show as the looks progress until it culminates in the ultimate version of itself. The end result will always be: problem solved. Fashion dilemma fixed. The world goes on for another day. That is the genius of a Junya Watanabe collection.
Watanabe’s do or die moment for Fall 2015 revolved around the architecture of a honeycomb (last season it was the circle). Geometrics. Mathematics. Repetitive structure. Complexity set on a classic base of black and white in the guise of buttoned-up white shirts, trim trousers, pleated skirts, flat shoes. That’s the easy part. The challenge comes in Watanabe’s origami, lattice-cut capes, coats and dresses that unfurl in an endless equation of geo structures, points, shapes each realized to the nth degree in fabrics that glide over the body. Carefully calculated, they are the stars of the show, not that you could ever think otherwise.
But let’s not forget the elephant in the room, and why I started writing this article in the first place. Those hats. Those wickedly weird and wonderfully wacked hats remind me of suped-up kitchen utensils. Juicers, egg cartons, cupcake molds. The ordinary made extraordinary. For all their odd-ness, they do justice as an accompaniment to the clothes. Their algebraic-precision adds to the overall effect and to the idea that bold, unadorned, clear-cut shape whether it’s on one’s head or on one’s body can be beautiful. Point taken.
In a Watanabe collection, you have to think a little harder, put on your ‘thinking cap’ as my grandmother used to say. Accept the fact that 2+2 will never equal 4 for this designer. This is 2+2 multiplied by a billion times, and to the power of that situation. I’m no mathematician, but doesn’t that just equal fabulous?