I know I may throw around the word a little too liberally, but it is a challenge of the modern fashion system to be truly “underground”, for your name not to be widely known, to be able to operate entirely on your own terms, and especially in the case of Tokyo, to be outside the system enough to be able to take aim at it. Indeed, there do still remain a handful of the homepageless, the interview dodging cult leaders, and a whole new wave who operate almost entirely online, but crucially do not sell there lest they lose control over who can buy into their world. While it is easy to that path and opt out entirely, and perhaps Tokyo is the only place where that approach is still financially viable, it is those who walk the line between playing the game and redefining the game who are most likely to have their names recorded in Japanese fashion history. For me it is bodysong who best fulfills that latter remit out of the current generation of Tokyo designers, eschewing the forced seasonal thematic approach in favor of constantly refining a whole, holding their exhibitions up to 2 months out of sync with the Tokyo cycle, and even handling all their production and business dealings in house. A tall order certainly, but the price that needs to be paid to be “underground” in the global age.
The visuals this season highlights a tweak to the bodysong formula, in having taken their own trademark style to its logical head to toe conclusion in previous seasons as you can see here, now they have arrived at a point where they want to channel that formula into more conventional styles in order to truly highlight the direction of the brand. In explaining what that direction is, I should probably start with why I use the word “channel” as opposed to “mix”. When I think of fashion mixing, I am drawn to the likes of Facetams and Mr Gentleman, where the Harajuku-esque blurring of fashion staples results in genuinely new fashion that can’t be reduced to the sum of its parts. However, now that we are rapidly heading into a Tokyo where that approach can be parodied, we have to consider how we can go beyond mixing, but rather use that existing framework to comment on our assumptions about fashion in a more conceptual way.
bodysong does just that with a “fashion hacker” approach that employs the digitizing of fashion as a means of corrupting or hacking forms that we find familiar. This can occasionally occur very literally such as the reworking of famous European designers’ patterns (who I will not name, but kudos if you can guess them) in different textiles and by inserting random values into the patterns, or on a fundamental level such as bodysong’s work with Nukeme where embroidery and jacquard machines’ software is deliberately corrupted to produce uncanny results.
The silhouette this season is more accessible for those who don’t want to be street snap fodder, but don’t let that lead you to think that it is any less subversive. It may be refined, but the whole is still bodysong through and through.
Ongoing collaborator Kou provides the majority of illustrations this season, which look especially strong broken up with original textiles from glitch artists ucnv as in the jacket above.
bodysong has always been a fan of collared shirts and sharp tailoring, something you might not have guessed from his previous output, but for the last two seasons it has been playing a more and more tangible role in his world – long may it continue.
Those after the classic bodysong amorphous silhouette are not left out entirely, but even with this ensemble above the refinement is clear to see.
The visuals for this season might have embraced the great outdoors, but the exhibition was pure underground, in this case rather literally, housed as it was in a cavernous live house and arts commune bunker next door to the unmarked bodysong atelier.
The musical setting was appropriate for a brand that treats the rules of fashion in much the same way as jazz sneers at sheet music.
The women’s items are going to have a lookbook to themselves, and I can vouch that there are plenty of good translucent pieces to look forward to as you can see above.
Glitch embroidery courtesy of Nukeme adorns the cap on the right.
Another preview of the women’s collection.
A hacked knit – this isn’t distressed (note the lack of stray ends), rather the knit is corrupted at source.
Those hungry for more can look forward to bodysong’s appearance on the catwalk this Saturday (the 21st) at the WUT runway show, I know I am.