Wut Berlin took their AW 2014-15 fashion show to arise reborn as WUT, and beyond the emphatic fitting of an iconic boutique responsible for shocking Tokyo’s own denizens, it is also a name that acknowledges that as an institution, it is not identifiable with the fashion of any one city, but rather a single manifesto drawn up from fashion’s freethinkers from all over the globe. The fact that WUT’s creative director, Yann Le Goec chooses to operate out of Tokyo is a contribution to the city that I for one would not like to see disappear, but seeing how the WUT concept has given solidarity to some of Tokyo’s, and indeed the world’s, most progressive designers who otherwise would be fragmented, I couldn’t help but take this juncture to imagine for a moment what an impact WUT would have in other fashion capitals sorely in need of a shot in the arm. But I digress.
WUT’s AW 2014-15 show was a “Baroque Army” themed extravaganza that, lying as it did well outside the Tokyo Fashion Week cycle, had the rare feeling of a fashion show for fashion’s sake – a pure celebration that could not be further removed from the poe-faced shows of the official week that do little justice to the city’s fashion proper, which has a pleasant tendency to exist without that artifice. But on a slightly more serious note the baroque visual theme was also a useful tool in the styling to comment on some of current trends on the street, employing gendered visual signifiers from the glory days of the French court such as ribbons, curls and high heels for men, in a modern context – asking the audience in the process why we now read these constructs as subversive.
With that in mind, keep your eye out for the visual flourishes that Yann employed in the show, because as you will discover, the bombastic designs from WUT regulars, Starstyling, Bernhard Willhelm, Balmung, bodysong, Sadak, Roberto Piqueras and Tata Christiane can be a little distracting to say the least.
Staging for the show came courtesy of bodysong and Yudai Ichinosawa who created a construction site of sorts for the new WUT to emerge from.
The first section of the show was surprisingly minimal (all things are relative) for WUT, but served as a good reminder, before the busier visuals inevitably crept in, that there is a world of difference between the “edgy” digital prints doing the rounds, and the work from designers at the top of the game that mix those in with innovative silhouettes and materials.
Early looks were the domain of designers Motoguo, Vladimir Karaleev, Tigran, Avetisyan, Anntian and Hui-Hui.
Personally I liked how these early looks interpreted the idea of the baroque in relation to modernism, especially in contrast,
but also in the sense of finding a modern reading of the baroque, which is something we will come back to later.
This segment highlighted military and camouflage, the above alluding to military insignia,
while Tokyo’s own Balmung was deployed as a futuristic foot-soldier.
bodysong’s clothes made for an interesting play on what it would take to actually camouflage yourself in the visual saturation of urban Tokyo.
And it was an absolute pleasure to see his women’s get the airing it deserves as above and below:
Illustrations here are by Kou for bodysong, and I love the contrast of the monotone sketches on the outer and vivid colors on the inner.
The third segment of the show captures Sadak, Revasseur, Daniel Palillo, Yii and Andrew Crews, styled to highlight elements of the baroque in the modern world.
The use of football imagery was not only fitting in relation to the world cup, but also the idea of expressing triumph and power core to the baroque.
The celebration of saturation and exaggeration as characteristic of global youth fashion is a nice retort to those who seek to criticise it. When done correctly the combination of nihilism with decadence is quite evocative – the original punks rebelled because they had nothing, the modern generation has everything and still choose to rob anything of meaning.
The final segment of the show gave Yann a chance to flex his muscles, blurring print heavy work from Rene Gurskov, Roberto Piqueras and Tata Christiane into a true visual assault.
Here all the readings of baroque established so far came together into a exuberant display of meaningless saturation of digital culture, giving middle fingers to anyone who dares to think they are superior for exercising restraint – if there was a club in the Palace of Versailles, this is what you would wear to it.
As I said from the outset it is easy to get lost in the prints and ignore the look as a whole, so take a moment to drink these in.
The makeup (by Ken(3rd)) was particularly appropriate as well as being a nice nod to the Berlin new wave.
The show climaxed with a wedding dress that fused street fashion with opulence – and somehow got away with it!
By the time you read this there should be a video available, so if you are hungry to see what it looked like in motion, feel free to seek it out.
Yann Le Goec taking his bow wearing a print by Daniel Palillo produced for the occasion.
For more on WUT you can go to the homepage here, and in the spirit of their borderless direction they do accept international orders, making them one of the few places to acquire many of these brands, including Balmung and bodysong, outside Japan.