Show Report

Show Report: Junya Watanabe S/S 16 Womenswear

by Lucy Norris on 6 October 2015

Lucy Norris reports on the Junya Watanabe S/S 16 womenswear show.

Lucy Norris reports on the Junya Watanabe S/S 16 womenswear show.

A drum roll sounded, and models appeared wearing reclaimed industrial sculptures. Burnt out papery dévoré tunics looked perfectly exhausted, whilst swagged and draped shirtsleeve dresses completed the opening oeuvre. Strips of high shine leather were wound around the neck, and assembled to form braces. The canvas continued to become more layered, as cheetah printed leathers were draped over shoulders. These looks were beginning to look like agenda driven moodboards. 

Reminiscent of the great rubbish tips of Africa, an image that may have been seen by some, but conveniently forgotten by most – this collection reminded one of where all of our old TV sets, fridges and computers end up. Like an apocalyptic wasteland, think of these mammoth dumping grounds as the end of the consumerist conveyer belt. ‘Scavenger’ communities set up camp in amongst the landscape of rubbish. Boys as young as three years old sit and boil sulphur out of our iPhones and keyboards, so they can extract the valuable copper. Many of them become blind due to the toxicity of chemicals. Yep, this collection reminded me of that. Blindness is just one of the many perils, which face the people that attempt to earn a living, scavenging off our obsolete acquisitions. Concern worldwide has described one of the largest tips in Africa, in Dandora, as: "one of the most flagrant violations of human rights in Kenya", whilst the UN says 50 million tones of e-waste is sent to China, Ghana, India and Pakistan every year. Leave it up to the Japanese ‘greats’ to hit upon such a socially driven topic, and embed it in their work. Watanabe is, of course, one of these ‘greats’. It's a brand with an intellectually driven punk spirit, that speaks of the world we live in. 

A tabard of silver circles had a 1960s vibe, and spoke of the decade when mass consumption really exploded. Grey and earthy striped square cut tunics were hooped at the wrist with washer silver pieces. Made up of various metals and plastics, you could probably have played this collection as an instrument. The percussion-based sound track was overlaid with the sounds of an oasis, whilst the models’ headpieces bobbed up and down like the wings of a toucan. The colours gradually became brighter throughout the collection. Starting with the obligatory black and white, fuchsias, bird of paradise blues and forest greens all appeared. A towering headpiece evoked a witch doctor takeover, as op art prints and a woodwind rhythmic soundtrack lulled viewers into an attentive trance. 

Models may have worn markings on their face, but know you will not need bravery to wear this collection. Junya Watanabe is a laboratory brand, a member of the Comme des Garçons family. Not only will these pieces be available in commercial variants. As a designer’s designer, they will help inform the coming seasons.



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