March 16, 2015
Couture festivals abound
“Fashion Week” has to be one of the biggest misnomers in the fashion lexicon, frankly bordering on a bare-faced lie at times. Even the official Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo schedule sprawls past either side of this designation, and the scope of events is guaranteed to keep you busy well into April. Those interested can check the full schedule at the official homepage (http://tokyo-mbfashionweek.com), and keep in mind that there’s a whole host of exhibitions, installations, and events going on off-schedule—which I’m afraid you’ll just have to navigate yourself. My advice is to hit social media and jump at any open invitations.
One of the biggest questions facing Tokyo Fashion Week as a whole is one of identity. Simply put, how does the week reflect Tokyo? And by proxy, how does it reflect Japanese fashion? It’s easy to get distracted by brands such as Black by Vanquish, G.V.G.V., and 5351 Pour Les Hommes et Les Femmes, that acutely reflect what you see on the streets of Tokyo outside the venues. But while there are doubtless elements of those brands which reflect a standard of finish and awareness of layering that you could say typify the Japanese market, they’re still brands working in the Western fashion genre. Few would associate them with the traditional. However, tradition and fashion rarely go hand in hand—one celebrates the past and continuity, while the other wants to tear it up, or at the very least, deconstruct it.
Stepping up to offer a vision of traditional Japanese clothing in the Fashion Week context are brands like kimono maestro Jotaro Saito and artisanal label Matohu. Each season, their collections propose a simple point—“modern” does not have to mean “Western”— and whether it’s kimono in gothic snakeskin print, or traditional workwear rendered in top-of-the-range textiles, these two designers are taking the lead on this ongoing discussion.
Fashion Week has a tendency to tease—after all, you see all these great clothes on the catwalk—but with the taunting caveat that they’re not going to be on sale for at least three or four months. Those in need of a bit of instant retail gratification would do well to head on over to the seventh Shibuya Fashion Festival, which kicks off on the 21st of March with a guerrilla fashion show just a stone’s throw from Hachiko. On that note, the iconic dog will be dressing up for the occasion in a number of fashionable ensembles, and if you join him, you could be in the running for a ¥5,000 shopping voucher if you’re snapped by the organizers. Over 200 shops in the Shibuya area will be participating with a range of workshops, sales, and parties, so check out the official homepage (www.shibuyafashionfestival.com) to see what’s going on.
Affectionately termed “Fashion Week Flu,” the inevitable consequence of a barrage of shows, parties, and all-round excess, does not have to put an end to your week.
Rather, it presents an opportunity to accessorize with the current boom in fashionable face masks.
Designer options are all the rage, but even your local drugstore is likely to stock a range of easy-to-coordinate copies to suit your look.