Jenny Fax picked up on many of the themes established by her husband Mikio Sakabe in his AW 2013-14 presentation that appropriately ran back to back as part of the Harajuku Project shows in the middle Tokyo Fashion Week. The idea of the disillusionment faced by the generation raised in the 80s was key: a depressed gang of girls dressed in their childish objects of transference from the era, a Cabbage Patch Kid lay discarded on the floor, sweaters covered with a random selection of stickers, they didn’t want to grow up and yet their oversized outer layers worn as outer dresses alluded to an awkward sexuality, a juxtaposition also employed centrally in Mikio’s show.
The iconic bathtub scene from the Gummo gave us the setting for the show, as a sole tulle clad model sat centrally eating spaghetti in the tub, while Roy Orbison’s “Crying” provided the soundtrack as in the film.
The model in the bath tub.
Once you get past the fact that similar items to those shown on the catwalk can be found in Tokyo’s vintage shops, and indeed there is an extent to which Jenny Fax does take trends from the street level, her perfectionist approach does take it to the next level and makes them collectable purchases overnight in the city. What can I say? If you don’t buy into the cult then you are probably not going to appreciate just how good the embroidery is on the silky soft fabrics, the subversive twists on 80s and 90s silhouettes and the witty culture references. Hopefully even if you are not going to wear this, at the very least you can appreciate it on a cultural level as an examination of both Japanese youth and sociology.
Early on in the show cute lamb embroidered pastels made for commercial hits,
while full on ensembles are likely to hit the streets on the backs of the brand obsessives.
The crying hearts were probably my favorite motif from the collection, a perfect symbol of the disaffection of the kawaii generation.
The idea of fashion as rubbish has been a big one in the art world as well as the fashion world this year – Writtenafterwards (who works closely with both Mikio Sakabe and Jenny Fax at Cocconogacco) having taken the lead on that in his last collection.
Loved this sticker strewn sweater.
Jenny Fax’s awkward tailoring made the wearer into something of a cuddly toy this time round, and I was disappointed that they did not turn up in more wearable fabrics in the showroom – Tokyo has quite a challenge on its hands, but I know it will rise to it.
This kind of coordinate could come from a vintage shop, but it is little details like the buttons, the fact that the print flows around the piece so that one side is the right way up and the other upside down, not to mention the awkward fit, that make this the choice of the trend-setting Tokyoite right now.
As the last notes of “Crying” rang out, the models returned to the stage to the sounds of Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn”. A bizarre alien appeared above the girls dangling a UFO on a fishing rod, apparently a metaphor for the hope of the generation, that ultimately came to nothing.
And then the shutters were down and the show over.
You have to hand it to both Jenny and Mikio for creating the talking points of Tokyo Fashion Week, not to mention clothes that genuinely challenge society – something that most fashion designers seem to have given up on. If this was in NY, these pair would be the Jeremy Scotts of their generation, but I believe in time their names will be guaranteed a place in the A-list of Japanese fashion.