Come into the Light

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I'm feeling rather good about the fact that my right thumb has started cramping up.  Why?  A few of the designers at Tokyo Fashion Week have ditched the conventional catwalk lighting norms in favour of ambiance which has meant that my thumb has been going mad on the ISO dial on my camera, switching it up constantly to cope with the lighting fluctuations.  Cramped hand it is and I'm perfectly content seeing as the spectacle of the shows were definitely enhanced by their whimsical lighting decisions.

First up was Johan Ku, who is an oddity at MBTF in that he's from Taiwan and based in London and yet he expressed a desire to show at Tokyo Fashion Week and was successful upon application.  Geeeeeee whiz and people told me JFW was supposedly a closeted and closed affair.  He was welcomed with open arms and didn't disappoint by choosing to base his collection around the triptastic film Enter the Void, set in a pyschedelic Tokyo.  For those that have a weak constitution, avoid the film at all costs.  I came out of the cinema feeling like someone had stuck their fingers in my brain and swirled them around a bit.  I'm now somewhat glad I did watch it as Ku's knits, made out of special yarns that glowed in the dark, made all the more sense with that dissolute and neon-lit Tokyo backdrop in my head.  The on and off darkness was therefore what made my ISO dial go from one end to the other, back and forth and made for some freaky shots.  The knits themselves have been reduced in chunkiness from Ku's previous collections, judging from his website.  They were supported by leggings and jersey skirts but it was mainly about the textural chunky-yarn tops and voluminous dresses with their extra-terrestrial glowing property.  Long may there be other 'outsider' forces at Tokyo Fashion Week…

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Christian Dada's show plunged us straight into darkness but the dramatic spots also made for some ISO dial tinkering.  This was only Masanori Morikawa second show for his label Christian Dada but the anticipation in the crowd coupled with the beginning of the show gave me a flashback of a 'Gareth Pugh Tingle' – a feeling that I felt in the early days of Gareth Pugh's career in London where the start of the show (thanks to Matthew Stone's soundtrack) sent tingly shivers up my back, something that sadly doesn't occur often enough these days.  The comparison stops there seeing as the aesthetic of Morikawa's collection can't really be linked with Pugh's, save for the use of a giant box obscuring the model completely.  This seemed to stem from the idea of protecting the Dada creature – be it with animal skulls, spines running up dresses, thorny branches or quite literally a cage that seemed much more positive in person, than it sounds.  Morikawa's vision didn't become fully reveal itself until the very last instance when a woman in white came out with a train of branches, strangely serene.  The label Christian Dada seems to be one of the new generation of designers in Tokyo that are content with exploring visual impact to the max before figuring out mapped-out wearability and the newly branded Tokyo Fashion Week could certainly do with a double dose of this vision for coming seasons to build up the week's newfound profile.    

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Ne-Net-ed

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I blame the stonkingly good meals that we get after our late-night finishes (whilst punctual, the shows start late in the day at here MBTF and the last one is normally at around 21.30) that have been putting me straight to sleep at night which has caused a bit of a lag-attack on posting.  I may possibly have had the third best meal of my life last night but I'm still gouging sleep out of my eyes so it's possible I may have to rethink that.

First though, Ne-Net-Maaaaaaadness!  Well, I say madness.  It seems to be normal procedure at Ne-Net to invite faithful customers to the show as standing guests and here they were all shuffled off into one room where I shamelessly snapped away just to illustrate the sort of brand loyalty that thus warrants each person their spot at the show.  I love the comraderie of being invited as style tribe to a show and that's another tick for MBTF show practise.  Note their embarrassed chuckles and their looks as though I was an alien, as I was introduced by my translator as a blogger from London.  It was a strange sight to see just because this level of faithfulness to one brand isn't exactly common in Europe where in general we're brand-sluts, picking and choosing from a plethora of high street brands and masking their provenance most of the time.  Here people wear Ne-Net so that you distinctly know what the brand is and given that Ne-Net has such a distinctive aesthetic that can only be described as Cutesey Japanified Prep-Prairie, it made for a host of visual deets to snap.  You'd sometimes spot the same item five times over which proves Ne-Net's popularity that resonates with a certain Japanese style aesthetic for both guys and gals.  I'll probably never personally outgrow a sweatshirt with an animal face or a cute motif or two though I can't say I'll ever be as committed as this bunch here…

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Everyone gets a cookie upon entrance too… sustenance of any sort goes a long way in my book….  David Roberts here with Danny of Igor and Andre models it well…

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The S/S 12 show itself was exactly the summation of the mish mashed phrase of prep-prairie style.  Perhaps in this instance, it was more prep than prairie.  Outdoor pursuits such as hunting and fishing with vaguely posh and British roots seemed to be the points of reference.  Anything animalistic was immediately softened up with plush softtoy dogs being dragged along the runway, fake falcons on the arms and appliqued sweatshirts with puppy eyes staring back at you.  There will always be a part inside me that can't quite let go of the type of clothes that I hankered after as a starry eyed teen in Hong Kong when exposed to clothes of the Ne-Net/Mercibeaucoup/Tsumori Chisato sort (incidentally, they're all part of the same A-Net group).  Knitted varsity jackets and cotton school boy blazers with matching waistcoats on Harry Potter types ups the prep in a way that is slightly cartoonish.  Breton stripes, oversized dungarees and paisley bandanas knotted into scarfs complete a host of old-world British-inspired clothes that will keep the peeps in the pics above a happy crowd indeed.  It's interesting that in the hands of the Japanese, references as archaic as hunting, fishing and school uniforms become such fun fodder and I put that down to an imagination that Ne-Net has for creating what essentially is a collection of engaging characters that customers presumably buy into.  I did briefly think about whether if Ne-Net expanded to Europe, would they have the same sort of traction with people.  I'm not entirely sure, but the mere thought of it is pretty amusing…

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