Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on November 2010
Tokyo’s biannual celebration of homegrown haute couture has come a long way since it was first held in a tent near Meiji-Jingu shrine in 2005. Since moving to its permanent home at Tokyo Midtown and nearby venues, Japan Fashion Week has been better equipped to welcome fans and international press, as well as to stage large-scale runway shows. The 11th edition, held in mid-October, saw 55 brands unveil their Spring/Summer 2011 collections in catwalk displays and exhibitions.
However, not everything has been going smoothly. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has reduced its funding for the event, and is rumored to be pulling out from next year, sparking some changes in the festivities. Recent favorites such as Everlasting Sprout and Aguri Sagimori opted to hold exhibitions rather than budget-draining runway shows, and veteran brands such as Junko Koshino and Dress Camp bowed out altogether. This installment had a more populist feel than in the past, thanks to the inclusion of brands Liz Lisa and Vanquish—mainstays of the 109 department store and the highly commercial Tokyo Girls Collection. On the other hand, JFW continued its tradition of fostering young, cutting-edge designers, and offering a platform for established brands to unveil some surprises.
Young brand Bortsprungt, which launched in 2008, presented a women’s collection inspired by the colors and textures of antique furniture and patina manuscripts. Their innovatively staged show joined the conceptual dots, with models navigating through a maze of old chairs and lamps.
Kyushu-based designer Junya Tashiro is known for ladies apparel made of organic materials and cast almost entirely in a palate of white and beige—so he delivered something of a surprise when he unveiled a collection with bold accents in orange, mustard, olive green and even black.
Designer Tae Ashida has a truly international background: educated in Switzerland and the US, she also frequently presents her collections in Paris. The influence of all this globetrotting is evident in her latest collection, which includes batik-inspired prints, flowing skirts and accessories with a Balinese flavor.
Miss Ashida is available at Boutique Ashida Ginza: 6-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3574-8811. Open daily 11am-7pm. www.jun-ashida.co.jp
Tamae Hirokawa’s Somarta brand aims to explore the “possibilities of clothing on the body,” which she does by experimenting with high-tech fabrics and working with unlikely collaborators such as Toyota. The result, as demonstrated by her latest show, is shimmering, contoured apparel with an otherworldly look.
4F Mitsukoshi Ginza, 4-6-16 Ginza, Chuo-ku. Tel: 03-3562-1111. Open daily 10am-8pm. www.somarta.jp
Akira Takeuchi and Tayuka Nakanishi take the name of their brand seriously, and each show plays out like a stage production. The pair love to incorporate international and period influences into their designs—previous collections were inspired by Vietnamese resorts and vintage family photographs, while their latest borrows colors and forms from ’60s French fashion.
4-26-24 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tel: 03-6438-1757. Open Thu-Tue 11am-8pm, closed Wed. www.theatreproducts.co.jp
With a career dating back to 1964, veteran designer Yukiko Hanai never fails to put on a good show at JFW. Her latest offering, which played to a packed house at Tokyo Midtown Hall, featured models walking through a shower of bubbles that gently glided down from the ceiling, and a collection set in a bold range of colors.
8-1-19 Akasaka, Minato-ku. Tel: 03-3404-5791. Open Mon-Sat 11am-7pm, closed Sun & hols. www.hanai.co.jp