Today we are taking a look at both the men’s and women’s collections from Banal Chic Bizarre for the A/W 2012-13 season, which continues the brand’s tradition of only putting out a catwalk collection when they have a certain story they wish to tell with the collection.  Compared to the last collection (here), which was a quick history of Ura-Harajuku street fashion, this time all the looks pretty much flow into each other and could be styled together randomly without putting a foot wrong (not unlike the last A/W here), so they have chosen a simple lookbook to get the message across.

The men’s collection is titled “casual”, and is just that.  The cuts are expansive and generous to the point where the traditional menswear looks almost comically oversized, and there are plenty of plush fleece fabrics to guarantee you feel like you are wearing a duvet.  On the other hand, Banal Chic Bizarre has taken the opportunity to throw in a couple of their curve balls to ensure that theirs is the most progressive of the Ura-Hara crowd.  These twists come in the form of 70s boot-cut trousers that border on flares but hang awkwardly on the ankle, and most noticeably of all – the glam high heels that are very conspicuous in every look.  Those will doubtlessly trip a couple of people up (!), but BCB always unveils some challenging footwear each season and I am glad they do, because few others move beyond the pretty limited men’s template.  I am still waiting for them to sink in, but I think they are a nice counterpoint to the slouchy outers and wide-legged trousers.

On to the women’s and congratulations are in order!  One half of the design team Ichige is now on maternity leave, leaving Nakagawa as the sole designer for the men’s next season (she will still be working on the ladies).  To celebrate they have come up with a pregnancy themed collection packed with fur and down, the latter being the title of the collection.  Following up on the retro-futuristic theme of the current season, the styling is helped with a good amount of man-made fabrics, which contrast nicely with the organic furs elsewhere.  In its most extreme example, fur is actually wrapped in vinyl in the final skirt of the lookbook, which is frankly quite an uncomfortable image, but Banal Chic Bizarre likes to, and should, go for something that pushes the boundaries of street fashion, or else they would have to hand their Harajuku fashion crown over to the hundreds of brands snapping at their heels.

So there you go, challenging stuff on both accounts, and it will be interesting to see how it is reflected on the street later this year.  As Tokyo residents can testify, fans of BCB are always pretty noticeable and that is probably the most exciting thing about this brand for me – people actually wear it, which gives them a cultural reach that very few can ever hope to achieve.

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