Saturday, January 31, 2009

Junya Watanabe turned inside out

For Spring 2009, Watanabe offered gingham coats that, when reversed, became jackets with attached waistcoats.

This fall, he presents the same kind of double utility, again working with his collaborators: Brooks Brothers, Baracuta, Levi's, and Gloverall.

As expected, many have pointed out the economic value of such duality during the recession.

But it appears that the designer has had other things in mind.

No hunting, no fishing, no firearms, without written permission, reads the invitation to his show.

Turned inside out, his coats are suddenly equipped with pockets and hunting patches.

Simple check and pinstripe combinations are transformed by quilted patches and multi-color panels.

As last spring, the shoes provide good accents.

All-weather materials are combined with fall/winter fabric.

Who can imagine that a metallic zip-up can turn into a button-down jacket with nifty shoulder detailing?

Quite amazing how the traditionally thick puffer can be flipped and compressed by a vest.

Notice the quilted patches on the pants. No argument there: they are definitely better than what Armani and Dolce & Gabbana have been bickering about.

Or how a coat with delicious pockets contain a puffer vest.

Watanabe also offers the detachable option with these beautifully structured thin puffer separates. The colors of this piece are just amazing: the red in the right sheen, the orange hems and pockets with curving flaps, and of course, the brown suede (?) detailing. If it weren’t for the weather, I find no reason to hide this masterpiece.

The red and black plaid brings everything together.

Genius, the way quilted patches camouflage the pockets. Again the plaid.

A good thing deserves a double encore.

Even in more somber hues and in pinstripes, the matching of these three textures creates something new for the classics.

Harrington or vest, it’s the color that passes the test.

Literal army camouflage. Utility pockets for another great shade of red.

Any time for bronze puffers, as long as they rough it with this nature palette. And innovative pockets!

Now these have got to be the pièce(s) de résistance of the collection: magnificently quilted puffers with leather (?) pockets. And in chocolate-tinged bronze, no less!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hermes' canary in the coal mine

The Fall 2007 trend is back (done best by Etro), but this time unexpectedly pursued by conservative luxury leather goods house Hermes in its Fall 2009 collection.

Sure, this is not the first time it has presented bright and unexpected colors, like blue in Spring 2009 and aqua in Fall 2007, plus some instances of red and non-muted green, but to bring out canary yellow in a significant number of pieces is no different from sending the proverbial yellow bird to test the safety of a mining shaft.

No other designer has produced as much of the color.

Except in few cases, like in this cardigan, canary yellow is done best as a solid color - as in the coat, sweaters, turtleneck, and pants. It attracts attention like a taxi cab. Or these birds.

I previously shied away from the color, as I found it too loud for me to go unnoticed. I thought that, as in the way these outfits have been styled, canary yellow can only go with equally solid black, white, beige, and gray.

But the plumage of these birds show that the color is best rendered with a muddy mix of gradations of these four complements.

I would even go as far as to suggest that technically enhanced combinations be done: like a gray paisley pattern partially printed or embroidered onto canary yellow fabric.

This way, the hue can be subdued and the result can be mixed and matched with more pieces. With gold and/or silver, what do you think?

The layers and landscapes of Miharayasuhiro

How long is the journey from idea to product, from inspiration to execution? How does an image change when it crosses from photography to fashion, such that memory becomes a new experience?

Mihara Yasuhiros's Fall 2009 collection, entitled Left and Right, was born from the concept of travel, culling cultural associations from both the objects and roads involved in ancient trade, particularly between the East and the West.

I have decided to juxtapose Yasuhiro's clothes with images of nature and human habitation - from Tibet, the Himalayas, and Everest, to hunting in the woods with snow dogs and huskies, and trailed by wolves - to give them a sense of place and perhaps revive the history behind ideas.

Notice how these two suits in beige and black have a worn-in quality, almost as if their wearers were really on board cross-continental trains and have, at their point of destination, engaged business partners in trade.

The fabrics somehow resemble linen but look so light and thin that for certain synthetics have been blended in. Also observe the lace-ups, which are studded like Miuccia Prada's in her Fall 2009 collection. Yasuhiro's are better though because the studs are scattered and not placed in a geomtrical pattern.

The runway has been carpeted with sand, which, though used for a practical purpose, nevertheless simultaneously conjures images of both desert and glacier.

This three-piece suit (is that a silk scarf underneath the vest?) is all about the enigma of departure and arrival.

A jaded and perhaps coked out modern Prince Hamlet. (The play, after all, is set in wintry Denmark.)

Now this, I don't know how to explain...but the pair of images works. What's underneath looks like a combination of a vest and a Chinese-collared shirt.

Gray and pink plaid dotted with black and white is no different from winter blossoms, with petals falling on ice-caked soil.

The black pieces have a sheen similar to leather or the hair of horses. The vest is interesting, as its turned up collar makes way for the brown scarf, but I am somehow stumped in figuring out how the silk chocolate brown shirt has the effect of providing a second scarf. Maybe it's really just the magnificently thin silk.

Trust me, there is something else in common with this ensemble and the geyser besides the color pink.

What kind of fabric is this, which looks like a cross between paper and wool? Weathered flannel? The ribbon belt adds an interesting effect. Strange, but with the metalware I am reminded of the world of Charles Dickens.

Wonderful jacket and scarves (or is the top one part of the jacket?) This outfit unexpectedly works with the cargo pants. This time the necklace is becoming of a gypsy.

Is this just one or two coats? Why does it billow? Or, like in the next image, does the outer piece have a long cape that is swooped and worn over the shoulder? Any which way they are brilliant. Notice how the wool sweaters have been purposely made threadbare in certain parts?

The front part of this jacket mimics the shape scarves takes when they peek under vests.

Is this coat made of silk? The layering is fantastic. Would have been great to view the yellow backpack.

If dirty snow white can be a color, this would be it. Now if this coat was also made of silk, I wonder how one could keep warm?

This coat looks almost transparent. Everything just goes well with this outift: the colors, the varying textures of the cardigan and its buttons, the cropped jeans, the coat, and the combination of scarves.

Two lessons here: ripping stripes can give them a second life and, worn in layers with different lengths, they can bring consistency to an outfit.

The cardigan and the shirt both look wild - in terms of the cut and the fabrics used.

I'm sure Martha Stewart never thought of that.

Drop-crotch pants in pajama/long johns material. This silky scarf that almost looks like rags in tatters adds edge to bulkier fabrics.

Leave poets alone with their studded bags and drop-crotch pants.

The scarf meets the poncho.

The silk coat can't help but glimmer. Notice the length of the cardigan.

Apparently, this can be worn inside or out.

Three scarves + black flower brooch + drop-crotch pants + floppy hat all in monochrome = an ancestor of Hedi Slimane's Dior Homme. (Or is it just the model?)

This could have been two single-breasted suits sewn together. The layering is amazing. So is the placing of the brooch.

I see two marbled shirts, a tuxedo coat, and a towel-like apron. Mountain folk going baroque?

Would love to see these boots in detail. Also the pattern of the shirt.

What a journey indeed this collection has been.