Johan Ku is a real rarity on the Japanese fashion scene as not only being one of the few foreigners to exhibit, but also for having the option of exhibiting anywhere in the world, but actively choosing Tokyo fashion week as the place to display his work. Well Tokyo is very lucky to have him and despite this being his very first catwalk presentation, his mature and dynamic catwalk show belied the designer’s experience and did much to leave an impression on an audience who really didn’t know quite what to expect.
In simple terms the Saint Martins graduate is a man renowned for his heavy knitwear, that ranges from the (just about) wearable art to rather structural accessories. His work always feels pleasantly sculptural that at its best has something of an edge to it by virtue of his twisted organic creations appearing to almost devour the wearer, but nothing in his past could have prepared you for the aggression he brought to the runway at Harajuku Quest.
In his unconventional presentation that jolted the audience to attention with a thumping dance soundtrack the models would walk in total darkness (no flashes allowed) and would briefly flit into shafts of light on mirrored segments of the catwalk – nothing new just yet.
The work had the same bold structuralism of his previous Gold label collections, but this time toned down enough for mass consumption.
But it was in the gloom that the work came to life:
The fabrics, and in particular the wools which Johan Ku made his name in, are woven with a new hi-tech fibre developed in Taiwan that glows in the dark. Regrettably photos will never capture just how brilliantly these shone in the dark, but rest assured that this is far away from blacklight or traditional glow in the dark technology. These were far closer to the futuristic neon of Tron and in pitch dark at least, surprisingly well defined.
This technical theme was also touched upon by Olga of ETW. Vonneguet (report incoming fast) and I should be very surprised if this does not make a more widespread worldwide apparence very soon – indeed the fact that Gareth Pugh has not attempted this yet without the use of built in lights is a real surprise – watch this space.
Overall it was a show that made those in attendance sit up and take notice over the vast majority of shows this Tokyo fashion week, certainly Johan Ku has put his name out there to those who would normally switch off at the mention of knitwear. At the very least for managing to capture the attention and imagination of Tokyo in his very first show he must be applauded and hopefully he will be rewarded with a solid break into Japanese retail next season.
See more from Johan Ku here.
Catwalk images courtesy Change Fashion who deserve much approbation for managing to get such good pictures out of rather trying lighting.