The idea of color as a fixed entity is one fundamental to fashion, and indeed, art in general. We may accept the idea of the gradual patina that forms on leather, degradation of texture through time, or else shiny shimmers and flitting translucency, but how about colors that are in a constant state of flux? This was the theme of Kunihiko Morinaga’s brand Anrealage’s 2013-14 collection and it was one that he delivered in his own direct and assured style that coaxed cheers and applause from his captivated audience – a feat still very rare at Japanese fashion shows.
The show began with monochrome clothes entirely free from colour on a completely featureless stage, the models too with nude lips and natural make-up.
As the show went on flashes of colour started to appear as if the colour was gradually being tuned in – all with Anrealage’s unique attention to detail as you can see from the buttons on the coat below.
Then the pace changed as a pair of models clad in the simplest of long cardigans took to the stage and stood in silence on a platform in the centre of the stage. In a buzz of frequencies the platform began to rotate and I don’t think anyone was really ready for what happened next.
At first it looked as if the lighting was changing, but it was plain to see that it was not. The color shift was slight and as the models walked out from under the lights the change had clearly taken hold – what was this witchcraft?
The second pair left nothing to the imagination, the originally white clothes sung with such rich color as the light took hold. In interview the designer revealed that this was the result of photochromatic dyes that we are all familiar with in transition lenses, a technology that dates back to the 1960s, but here employed in fashion on a scale I have yet to see. The base color has to be white for the reactive color to come through and gradients of invisible color are also possible, although for this collection the overtly blocky effect had the impact desired.
The silhouette was fairly typical for Anrealage, but the sherbet and pastel color scheme was a departure, but one that plays perfectly into Tokyo street trends right now and for next season.
The clothes are also very durable, can be washed safely without losing the effect, but in areas of high friction will lose dye as with any item.
The idea of accessories that change from white to color in light are likely to appeal to most, and can be coordinated with ease, but building a complete color changing coordinate is a challenge that I am going to leave to the streets of Harajuku to take the lead on.
As the show continued the textiles and clothes increased in complexity:
Capturing the clothes mid-shift gave them a faintly ghostly quality, very unreal.
But the best and final surprise was being saved for the end as this final trio took to the stage:
Suddenly the light cut out, and five seconds later were back on revealing that the clothes were completely back to their white state – remarkable.
The question of why this particular man’s genius is yet to be recognized outside of Tokyo is a difficult one and one that is probably only going to be resolved if this brand takes a trip to show in Europe (as has been rumored many times). Add to that the fact that this brand is not even on the official Mercedes-Benz schedule and largely un-promoted by the week even when it is plainly the one demonstrative of Tokyo fashion today and it leads to the only possible conclusion, that Tokyo needs to recognise this brand for what it is and communicate it to the world – I promise you that they will be receptive.