The terrible events just before Japan Fashion Week this March posed a very difficult question to the fashion industry in general and the individual designers in particular. As Etw. Vonneguet themed her touching show around, what can designers do at a time like this? and how can fashion be relevant in this time of austerity and change? Well, that was the hypothetical problem anyway, the reality was that Tokyo barely flinched, it was business as usual, shows went ahead against the odds and even though there was a dip, overall sales were steady. However, there was definitely a feeling that that former question still needed addressing, fashion needed to do something, it needed to clear the air and create an atmosphere where fashion could be enjoyed once again.
Runway for Japan was a charity fashion show put on by Bunka Fashion College primarily to raise money (as many brands have done already), but with a secondary purpose of presenting that fashion is still necessary in Japan. It matters – It is crucial to the Japanese soft-economy, the identity of the people and it has the power to effect real political change.
The event took the form of stripped back runway show and featured over 100 models, an enormously a high percentage of which were Japanese (still very much a rarity) wearing some fantastic clothes by some of the most important names in the business – many of whom were former students of the college. Continue reading for my picks of the show and proof (as if it were needed) that Japanese fashion is very much alive and well.
The show lacked a large amount of the fanfare that usually accompanies a catwalk extravagance, rather there was simple accompaniment of refined live music, an appearance by some adorable children and a sombre ballet performance. But the purpose of the show was after all the fashion and identity of the designers behind it. You can see the full list of those involved here but my personal favorites were Etw. Vonneguet, Yasuyuki Ishii, fur fur, Gut’s Dynamite Cabarets, Hisui, No,No,Yes!, Mikio Sakabe and Vanquish. Very diverse brands, but they felt oddly united on the catwalk, as indeed they should b at this time.
Those were my picks of the 100 I had to choose from, of particular note has to be the Hisui anti-nuclear power wrap, to my mind that is one of the most overt acts of protest to come out of the industry in many years. It is very interesting to see designers embracing their power in this way, and I am sure that our very own Vivienne Westwood would definitely approve.
Overall it was a beautiful show and I am sure that a recording of it will come out in the next couple of days. In the meantime you can keep an eye on the official site here and I am sure that I don’t need to encourage you to support Japan in any way you can in its time of need.
Update – The full 1 hour 45 minute show is out here. Check it out if you have the time.