Ever the rebels, Banal Chic Bizarre shrugged off any official involvement in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo or Versus Tokyo, but rather “coincidently” stuck their show right in the middle of the Tokyo fashion week schedule in a move that artfully preserved their underground status, while actually getting their work seen (a move many brands seem to forget). Likewise the show itself was themed on how the underground reacts with the mainstream and began by presenting an evolved version of slightly conservative preppy styling as the archetype of what society pushes as acceptable fashion, but then as the show continued the same items were slowly ripped into, cut up and combined until they gradually became the familiar street punk uniform we are used to seeing around the back streets of Harajuku. It was quite simply the history of both the brand, and the state of Harajuku street fashion captured in a single show, a “re-grouping” if you will that characterised so many shows from this last fashion week.
The styling also referenced “The Teamers” (the masked men) who date back to BCB’s 2010 A/W who are often used as a metaphor for the cumulative creative energy and means of communication of those involved in street fashion. Certainly the speed and ferocity with which they pounded the catwalks (especially after seeing quite a few “graceful” shows) made all in their presence sit up and pay attention as they sped past, bringing some much needed aggression to the catwalk. For me it was a reminder amidst the new slightly more international Tokyo fashion week provided by Mercedes-Benz that this was what Tokyo designers do best, not treating it as a stepping stone to Paris, but confidently firing their work out there in creative shows that echo the saturated excess of the city itself. After all, these kind of underground designers find themselves in a rather odd situation of having won over the fans already and in BCB’s case selling directly to them without buyers in the way, but now having built a successful brand have to win over the press and the media. BCB was actually one of the brands behind Root magazine (recommended!), which was a magazine started purely because the media was not interested in the underground fashion coming out of Harajuku at the time – but how the times have changed.
I won’t keep you from the collection any longer, it is just that for me this brand represents all that “should” be celebrated in Japanese fashion. As interesting as the clothes is the delivery – the means of communication, the awareness of the city and in turn the people who wear their clothes. Banal Chic Bizarre are one of the few brands who listen to the streets and celebrate the relationship their brand has with the people who wear it, they walk (or rather stride) their own path and it is one of the few brands who I suspect will contribute something genuinely new to fashion.
On a more practical note, fans of the brand will be keen to note that their oversized utilitarian rucksacks were back this season,
As was their aggressive colour blocking, that began in the form of these precise suits that would go on to get more and more disheveled as the show went on.
The early looks felt like an obvious continuation of their current collection that too focuses on how the youth of Tokyo adapt fashion.
Here we can see the start of the breakdown with bondage zips worked into the suit trousers and exaggerated proportions.
And finally we ended up in an articulated version of current Tokyo street fashion, topped up with the irregular touches of the titular vivid colour scheme.
I regret to say that I did not ask the designer who was behind the leather in the collection, but BCB have worked with Blackmeans in the past so it might well be them.
Plenty of nice remade touches that contrasted with the precision elsewhere in the tailoring.
The final looks for the show easily entered into my fashion week highlights – deft use of colour, avant-garde, but somehow always representative of real street fashion at the same time.
When I was getting into punk, Vivienne Westwood and so on, I had no idea that all those swirling influences and ideas would end up like the above – fantastic.
A well deserved bow indeed.
Right, I am off to buy a balaclava and if you are a convert to this band of rangers then you could do a lot worse than seeing the indivudual items from the collection over on their homepage and stay tuned for the women’s half of the show soon.