Metrosexual isn’t a buzz word that we’ve heard for a while, but I’m willing to dust off this old chestnut firstly in order to talk about the Japanese brands showing menswear at Paris Fashion Week, and secondly because the title sounds quite nice.
I’m a huge fan of Japanese menswear at both haute and street levels: I love the silhouettes, dark colour palette and of course the experimentation with materials and trends, something I feel is missing from the vast majority of men’s brands in the UK.
This January in Paris Samuel and I as Tokyo Telephone, as well as fawning over our favourite international designers, were paying special attention to the Japanese brands showing their latest collections for autumn winter 2011. Shapes were longer and looser than in previous seasons, the long-length coat is undergoing something of a revival, and I for one enjoyed the unexpected flashes of colour and modern takes on classic favourites. I’ve picked a couple of looks from the main brands to illustrate what I found particularly inspiring…
Aside from what can be best described as comedy wigs perched on top of the models’ heads, what really caught my eye was the mix of patterns in several looks. On the left, the autumnal colours bring the outfit together into one cohesive form, and I can’t help but fall for the black silk polka dot jacket! On the right, the pop of red showing from under the jacket is a great way to wear colour, and the fabric print itself reminds of those amazing early 1990s puffa jackets that made their way back into the ‘nu-rave’ scene a couple of years ago. The oversize skirt-like trousers seem to be emblematic of the shape of male fashion to come, at least in Japan, as there’s been a flirtation in Tokyo with the male dress/skirt and longer layers in street-wear.
Proving that you can’t go too far wrong with a moustache and a classic, I really liked Junya Watanabe’s twists on patterns and materials, particularly in the jackets. Nordic prints were a huge trend among the style-savvy youth in Japan and popped up everywhere from tights and trousers to headbands and hats and pretty much everything in between, and in Blighty too we were suddenly infatuated again with Christmas jumpers – so much so that we took to digging through piles of forgotten clothes at the back of the wardrobe. After all the shapeless knits, it’s great to see them back in the more structured from of the suit jacket and in this festive yet flattering colourway too. I love a duffle coat as much as the next person, but if I was Paddington Bear for the day it would, without a doubt, have to be in this stunning black leather version. Another great subversion from this icon brand.
If I had to take one idea away from this collection, it would have to be the coloured collar. So simple, so wearable and so unexpected – a flash of bright red amongst the brown – I can’t help but think of a little robin hopping around! An apt image, considering this is a winter collection after all. The coloured collar was also shown in a shade of bright blue that brought to mind fellow Japanese brand Vanquish and their spring summer 2011 collection, and marks a lovely transition from the loud colour blocking that is predicted to dominate fashion this summer. As with Comme des Garcons, trousers and jackets were longer and looser, allowing both for greater layering potential and hiding the post-Christmas tum that sees everyone reaching for the jeans with elasticated waist come Boxing Day. Amongst the large planes of black that categorise the suit on the right, the unobtrusive light print of a bird in flight counteracted the heavier feeling of the suit in general. I’m also a huge fan of the models that Yohji Yamamoto uses, each one a character taking their turn down the catwalk.
Samuel is a huge fan of Julius, and so am I. Closer to actual Japanese street fashion than the other brands showing at Paris, and still as inspiring and accessible. This season’s collection saw the continuation of the tight trousers and loose draped top combination that has come to represent the prevailing silhouette of modern Japanese male fashion. Yet this time with a far longer length of the top-half of the outfit creating a genderless dress effect, which was in turn offset by the heavy boots and minimalist accessories. My two highlights were the ‘champagne gold’ jacket – a colour I hope we’ll see more of – and the stunning Tibetan lambs coat with obscenely huge collar. Fantatsic. I think Samuel said it best in his full-length review of the Julius collection: “if previous collections were what the men on the street were wearing in Julius’ future, this is what the avant-garde are wearing”.
For more men’s fashion direct from Japan, take a look our menswear tag.
*This article also appears on the Brighton Fashion Week blog*