The first day of Tokyo Fashion Week may have been focused on Yuima Nakazato’s long awaited return to the Tokyo catwalk, but it was in the immediate aftermath of that show that all eyes turned to Fake Tokyo for Balmung, Runurunu and Bodysong’s first official Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Tokyo appearance. It is telling that this group of designers, and Yuima Nakazato, have Fake Tokyo and its iconic 1F shop Candy to thank for the majority of their success (but more of that in part 2). Thanks to their inclusion on the official schedule it was a very different crowd who attended the exhibition than that which we saw at the last Cocoon 4 (coverage here) and Balmung’s London Exhibition at Primitive London (coverage here). Under the scrutiny of editors and critics that might not always have turned out, the designers dutifully raised their game and produced undeniably their strongest presentation yet. In doing so they abandoned showing too much of their actual collection (that will come a little later), and focus on the context that you really need to not dismiss their work as “wacky” as would be the lazy route.
Creating that context in which to understand their collection was a live noise music soundtrack created by Nukeme Band, yesterdayboy and Video Boy on accompanying visuals. Their cracking distorted sounds came from a mixture of vinyl, VHS and live instruments, and emanated from the depths of the Fake Tokyo gallery, and were the unifying force that brought together the Cocoon collection concept as a whole and were synchronized with the live performance from rururunu’s model.
On entry we were greeted by a shell of fabric by runurunu, that in due course turned out to be occupied by a performer who slowly unfolded till the point where he threw off his literal cocoon and ran free. The close proximity of the work to the viewers, and the jerky, awkward and occasionally painful movements of the model were a reminder of the inherent edge that exists in runurunu’s work tied up as it is with Tibetan Buddhism and urban cults.
Explaining the work the designer said: “Originally I wanted to create clothes to escape my own body, and now with my next work I want to cast off some of the pop imagery I have used to this point”. This aim was very much evident in his fresh use of tousled fabrics over the anime-esque perfection we say from him at Gokai and on the stage of Akihabara Fashion Week, and I for one can’t wait to see a darker direction from this phenomenally talented man.
Struggling to break free.
The cultish shrine that oversaw the performance.
Equally unsettling was Balmung’s piece where two men hung/stood opposite each other. Neither truly supported by the structure nor the awkward stilts on which they stood. Their wobbling, defensive posture with their faces hidden made of an intriguing performance that in the packed gallery felt as if it could all topple at any moment. The leaves between them reflected the need to break out of their constraints and complimented the inherent fragility nicely. In this case it was a fragile cocoon of constraint and it will be interesting to see how this manifests itself given Balmung’s past use of heavier fabrics.
Finally in the back of Fake was the Bodysong installation that was home to the previously mentioned performers who provided our soundtrack. Their cocoon was a self-contained world of creation where you, the viewer, were only privy to a tiny glimpse inside. With all their stacked instruments and draped fabrics it felt like there was more going on inside the cocoon than the output (sound and projected visuals) would have you believe. Like runurunu their movements as they darted around the table, flipping switches, pressing keys and broadly communicating between swigs of beer was jumpy and almost tense. They were thoroughly absorbed in their work and it felt as if you were spying on a secret group of Bodysong acolytes (which you were). As a bonus all the performers were wearing Bodysong’s current collection, and it would seem that his fashion direction at least, along his collaboration with Yoshi Rotten, is set to continue for the forceable future.
In tomorrow’s part 2 we will be taking a closer look at some of the themes, references and commercial aspects of the show, so I hope you will join us at Tokyo Telephone for that very soon.