As an avid fan of Tatsuro Horikawa’s cult brand Julius it was actually quite difficult to find a hook in his eagerly awaited Spring / Summer collection shown as part of Paris Fashion Week.  On one hand we had seen it all before – there were the sumptuously fitted leather jackets, monk-like robes and leather straps in abundance that we have come to expect from him since his 2009 S/S and seminal goth_ik collection, but on the other hand, we have definitely never seen it done so well.  This time the collection was concise, perfected and felt entirely like “Julius”, yes the cargo trousers are fundamentally simular to the current collection, but it is in the details – the subtle differences in panelling and cut that the look has evolved into the cult uniform it was always meant to be.  Conspicuous by their absence was the formal leanings of his Halo A/W 2011/12 collection, as well as any significant amount of colour and even his trademark drapes were noticeably very thin on the ground.

The show itself had obvious stylistic similarities with goth_ik as well, from the claustrophobic catwalk to the models styling.  It was almost as if Julius was revisiting his Tokyo underground roots that he had stripped out of his recent collections and returned to his street punk roots, but wiser for the journey.

After Rick Owens’ dress-heavy S/S 2012 show I might have expected Julius to go down this route as well, but Julius’s male skirt-like constructions were closer to industrially styled wraps (again similar to current season), but he managed to coax out a simular level of movement from his baggy crotched combats and heavily draped robes as Owens’ dresses.

On the subject of gender, a couple of female models joined the men on the catwalk and it was interesting to see the same clothes looking so different on a woman’s body.  Indeed, they brought a degree of sensuality to the skin tight leather jackets and the key styling point of the leather chest straps.  It marked the emergence of Julius as a real unisex brand, albeit one that caters to men first.

The collection was also noticeably contained, focusing on bringing out the best in a confined and perfected collection over offering a huge amount of choice.  It served to make the work more recognizable and exaggerated the underground cultish side of the brand that is exemplified by the increased usage of leather strapped accesories.

One area where you are spoiled for choice was the footwear on offer.  All were classics in their own rights with the futuristic trainers being a considerable highlight, although I hope I am not alone in missing a pair of sandals in this S/S collection.

To place this in the broader context of Japanese fashion I think it will be interesting to see if Julius will remain the trendsetter that the lions share of Japanese street fashion follows.  Given that brands like Buffalo Bobs and Fuga are already re-interpreting what Julius has done in the past, will they shift their focus to something that feels fresh as Julius continues to perfect his particular brand of dystopian street fashion?

All in all, after the pomp that accompanied Halo it was nice to see Julius get back to basics and give himself an edge in which his underground inspirations will be allowed to flourish.

You can really feel the rugged aggression of underground Tokyo in this latest collection and it will be that which will always separate him from his contemporaries in Paris.

It might have been nice to see something in the collection that felt entirely fresh and exciting, but as I have worked my way through it you can’t help but be swept along with the clarity of vision.  The inclusion of women in the line-up is also on reflection quite a bold move for the brand and I hope that Julius continue to push into new territory in the future.  Frankly, Tatsuro Horikawa has perfected his art as it stands, and now all he can do is move onwards.

Catwalk shots courtesy of the brilliant Now Fashion.

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