Rakuten Tokyo (Part 2)
TOKIO’S RAKUTEN FASHION WEEK Autumn/Winter 2021/22: The concluding days saw a tempting Cocktail of wearable Elegance spiced up with a good Pinch of Quirkiness.
Here’s a Roundup of the Best of the Rest of Tokio’s Rakuten.
The final days of Tokio’s Rakuten Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2021/22 saw out-of-this-world offerings from some of Japan’s most respected designers. Rather deceptively, what appeared at a first glance to be simply some classic collections turned out upon closer inspection to be real marvels! A standout brand is Hare, with an accomplished collection of what I would call ‘poetic’ pieces: pastel-dyed padded suits, oversized stylish puffer coats, painterly graphic knits, luxe layering, Twenties-style cloche hats, sumptuous leather culottes and shearling repurposed in a very novel way. Another delightful discovery was Rynshu, a collection of sharply tailored, almost Italianate pieces with a distinct rockstar quality to them. Velvet, leather, sequins and metallics rubbed shoulders with geometric florals on garments ranging from tailored suits to cloaks – simply magical!
Scrumptous luxe wool suits came from the stables of designer Kohichi Watanabe of Rainmaker, who wowed with international-style layered, wrapped and belted looks – very sophisticated and oh so wearable! A quirky take on traditional shapes, shades and fabrics came from Mikage Shin whose work has been featured in style bible Vogue Italia in the past. Their treatment of conventional shapes like trench coats and layered suits was nothing short of inspirational, with still retaining traditional Japanese elements like mandarin collars as features but putting a novel and exciting spin on these. A brand with an interesting gender-fluid ethos and subtle, classic tailoring is Dressedundressed, brainchild of Takeshi Kitazawa. Humorous, modern and bold, these pieces are striking in their minimalist tailoring.
A brand worth a mention is Sowaha with its range of exquisite, feminine dresses. (Designer Tamae Hirokawa did a stint with revered Japanese superstar Issey Miyake and the influence is rather evident in this neat and accomplished range.) And speaking of things feminine and girly, designer Lim Asafuji of pays des fees created a range of the cutest pieces, lying somewhere between Italian label Blumarine and the drama of Vivienne Westwood. Pastel-shaded prints, blonde fake fur wraps and much frilliness define a range worth keeping an eye on in future.
A collection reminiscent of the famed Belgian designers was that of Basemark. With its trademark layering, artistic insets into garments, surface printing and graphic design, award-winning designer Shiho Kaneki (winner of Tokyo’s New Designer Fashion Grand Prix 2019) produced a very accomplished and wearable collection in autumnal shades. Another brand of merit is For Someone, with a gorgeous range of grungy, edgy crossover fashion. With transparent raincoats, chartreuse leggings, patterned mohair knits and pleather suits, designer Shiho Kaneki has carved out a fabulously quirky and covetable niche for this brand.
As ever, Tokio’s Rakuten wouldn’t be the same without its maverick, over-the-top streetwear and utilitywear offerings and the ultimate showings certainly didn’t disappoint. Japan’s answer to Malcolm McLaren is a designer who is in fact from a musical background – Junnosuke Watanabe no doubt had huge fun designing his collection for Neglect Adult Patients! Similarly, designer Yoshikazu Yamagata of Written Afterwards, who graduated from St Martin’s in 2005, managed to create an all-encompassing utilitywear collection of oversized hoodies, loose duffels, relaxed suits and trainers in tartan, denim and jacquard knits. A very interesting and eclectic collection that hovers on the edge of this category is that of Bodysong, self-confessed ‘makers of clothes for musicians’. A brand with a very artistic take on tartan worth mentioning is naokitomizuka, brainchild of designer Naoki Tomizuka – the models looked like walking pieces of modern art with a distinct Christmassy feel to them!
Tokio’s Rakuten Fashion Week has been, as ever, a platform where budding talent effortlessly rubs shoulders with established brands. The future of fashion seems at a crossroads at the minute – so much depends on nurturing new talent and encouraging brands to push the limits of creativity, but at the same time to keep a close eye on sustainability and to stick to the fashion industry’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. From what I could glean at Rakuten, these principles are not only alive and well, they’re flourishing.