It is not lightly that I dub the seasonal construct the enemy of fashion, not the enemy of commercial fashion obviously, but certainly the enemy of creation and an awkward reminder of how regrettably euro-centric the fashion system still is. Furthermore the idea of something being “on-trend” or “in” is also closely linked, the illusion of an expiry date on fashion has its roots in the seasonal construct, the idea that there is a ticking clock of validation above fashion is a dangerous one, and the explosion of combustable fast fashion is a the price we have paid for that timer running out. In the context of Tokyo Fashion Week this issue of “season” is also a dangerous one, given that the collections fall exactly when budgets for Paris need to be settled, making trips to see the city rare, and even if a trip is made, the budget will be all but gone. Add to that, that while Japan’s seasons are vaguely in line with Paris, the same cannot be said for the rest of East Asia, forcing that system to play by the rules of Europe is a farce that can only last so long, and arguably once that falls, well then maybe an Asia-centric fashion system might well develop (I touch on this issue in this interview).
Having said that, one cannot escape the lure of seasons in fashion, both on a practical level, but also an aesthetic one. There is a romance, and in the case of Japan a full-blown love affair, with the idea of dressing for the season, letting colors and motifs bounce of nature, a notion of constant progression nestled in familiarity that is comforting as it is exciting. However, the lie of modern fashion is that one must keep consuming to reflect those seasons in your fashion, the idea of putting your furs away for summer is now a quant one, put against the intoxicating idea that you can buy something newer – now a synonym for better.
Taking a stand against this construct is none other than Anrealage’s Kunihiko Morinaga, a fitting evolution for a designer who produces season after season of inventive fashion, but is dictated that he must come up with a brand new concept each season, rather than moving at his own, admittedly rapid, pace. He used his Tokyo Fashion Week (amusingly and pointedly held exactly one week after the official week was over) show to announce Anseason, a greatest hits line of sorts that would be a constant collection of his best work. In it we find a wealth of classic designs, and because they are out of “season”, they are never vulnerable to discounts and available to buyers every time they visit the showroom. It is a liberating display of confidence by Morinaga, an acknowledgment that his work is not tied to a calendar – and that was before the show even started:
The show began with sudden snowfall that panicked my camera as you can see above, but clearly announced that we were in winter, even as it quickly became apparent that the clothes were layered for winter rather than made for it. Indeed, the first twist of the show is that every item could be worn in isolation in summer and layered as in the show, in winter.
It was a step out of Anrealage’s usually conservative silhouette, and the way the clothes seemed to be escaping away from the body is a new one for this brand that seemed to divide viewers, even though the mix of shapes associated with seasonal staples was very well observed and rightly won over even the harshest critic.
Mid-show and the season became spring, and references to motifs played out year after year after year by fashion’s seasons made their appearance.
Even as we entered summer, the models were layered for winter, and it is not hard to imagine how one could dismantle each ensemble to fit the temperature and humidity of the seasons.
We found out after the show that almost every garment was made of Outlast Heat Management textiles, a technology invented for NASA to rapidly regulate body temperature – a boon for the Japanese summer as one goes from air-conditioning to scorching heat.
Towards the end of the show some standout items began to make their appearance with this icy studs looking good on hot red.
As was this trypophobia inducing cool coat.
However, the last surprise was still to come as a model stood static under the runway lights, and well, I will let you see for yourself:
This effect was achieved with wires in the fabric that expand under heat allowing for not only a regulation of heat, but a change of silhouette.
While the show may have felt like the usual technical exhibition we have come to expect from Anrealage, the real provocation was a rejection of the seasonal cycle in fashion – and that is the start of something very special.