The news that his former Antwerp Royal Academy classmate Demna Gvasalia is taking over at Balenciaga shocked Mikio Sakabe from his manga- and animé-culture focus to return to fashion. It was good to have him back. As cofounder of Coconogacco, Sakabe’s influence is helping to form the new wave of Japanese fashion designers (see Tokyo New Age). For his own Spring collection, Sakabe showed an eclectic mix of fabrics, prints, textures, and colors that put a cute, Japanese filter on the vintage madness seen in Paris and Milan this season. Laura Ashley prints were a reference point; so were Andy Warhol’s silkscreens.
Remodeling his minimalist aesthetic to powerful effect, Yasutoshi Ezumi channeled the work of Frank Gehry, who happened to be in Tokyo last week for the opening of exhibitions at the Espace Louis Vuitton Tokyo, and at the 21_21 Design Sight museum. Ezumi reshaped, draped, and slashed basics like tailored shirts, workwear, and this season’s ever-present trench and then layered them for a series of effortless looks that were different from each angle. Conceptual placement of extra sleeves used as belts or to serve as swirling decorative forms added a sense of play, as did the colorful, sculptural shoes by Taiwanese brand Absence.
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Mitsuru Nishizaki has seven years of experience cutting patterns at Yohji Yamamoto, and it showed in his Ujoh collection. Nishizaki’s masculine-feminine tailored suits, dresses, and separates emphasized pattern and asymmetry, yet remained light, and the clothes struck a chord: He was recently nominated for Italian Vogue’s Who Is on Next? competition. He’s got impressive skills and his vision is becoming more simplified and focused, but it would be nice to see it mature in a more original direction.
Yukimi Kawashima has a large following at home in Japan for her commercial line Aula Aila, and her new pet project Aula is already carried internationally, at stores like H. Lorenzo in Los Angeles. At her first runway show for the label, dusty-color cotton tailoring contrasted with long, pleated lace skirts of the sort we’ve been seeing all week, and there were folksy, embroidered dresses in the mix. Picture Frida Kahlo hanging out with the jet set in Tulum.
Somarta designer Tamae Hirokawa opted for an online digital presentation in lieu of a show, a fitting decision considering her trademark is second-skin seamless knitting designed on a computer. Through digital programming, the inner structure, the textile, and the pattern of each garment are designed at the same time. It’s potentially interesting, but her silhouettes are on the cute side, somewhat removed from her future-looking concept. The best moments were the body-con dresses and 2-D pieces (echoing kimonos) with an explosion of tribal algorithm patterns and textures in various shades of blue.
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