Isamu Katayama took inspiration from Spain for his Paris Fashion Week SS 2014 collection, rather literally in places, inviting flamenco dancers to perform during the show and bringing in a whole host of brighter colors to his heritage biker mix. The addition of fuchsia pink, silks and light linen is no doubt going to be a surprise for those expecting another assault of object dyed crocodile and rusty hardware that his Japanese fan base used to heaving the solid metal door open to his Tokyo flagship have long been accustomed to, but credit where it is undeniably due, this presents another side to the brand and to the man himself, and most importantly of all – it works.
Movement is a big part of the heritage biker world, the bikes themselves, the clank of a wallet chain, the scarf in the wind, and it is great to see that parallel being drawn to the flowing yet aggressive world of flamenco. The lighter fabrics and leathers are a good match for this direction, and even at their heaviest, silver accents and oiled leather catching the light allude to a sense of freedom that summer should elicit.
In a fittingly down to earth show, the models sat in full view before talking to the runway in turn, there is no need for mystery in the clothes, no need to hide behind theatrics, indeed, I hate the Japanese phrase “real clothes”, but these are, in every positive sense you want to squeeze out of that phrase, authentic, rugged and real.
Silk accents on the cuffs and turn-ups give a similar effect to that which Isamu has previously shot for with leather, but here it just feels all the lighter without venturing into elegant.
As the show moved on the looks became gradually heavier in silhouette, adding in some cheeky rock references via the leopard print leather in the process.
I wouldn’t place this in the artisan fashion crowd, not just for the fun use of mismatching tones, but also because it feels ripe with historical heritage and story over an abstract aesthetic.
For the final segment it was the turn of the leathers, and as ever Isamu Katayama did not disappoint:
The number of lighter colors on offer was a departure, but the cuts remained true.
Another great showing for a pillar of Japanese menswear, who is so much more than the leather that I too have been guilty in the past of focusing on. If you are in Tokyo then there is a 15th Anniversary party to look forward to in September (details here) at Ageha, the night will feature music and a full archive retrospective – see you there!