Faxed and Received

Faxed and Received

It's been a slam dunk of a first day at Mercedes Benz Tokyo Fashion Week, which is saying something seeing as I don't even use the phrase 'slam dunk'.  It's actually been a few days into the official schedule but I've been ramming in appointments, exhibitions and shows to atone for lost tone as well as trying to squeeze as much out of the week as humanely possible.  In seamless continuity from my last trip to Japan, I've experienced nothing but friendliness, inspiration mind juice and fashion-wise, nothing but the unexpected.  Everyone keeps pronouncing my name Sugi which is also fine by me.  Who gives a crap about Susie when Sugi is having such a swell time?  Another cheesyism that left the keyboard…

It seems like a bit of cop out to post about a label that I have in fact written about before but Jenny Fax properly kicked off my MBTF proceedings with a collection that seemed to latch on quite conveniently onto some of the themes that have developed in the main four fashion weeks of S/S 12 and has been bubbling quietly in my head.  I'll be thrashing out poor attempts of trying to articulate all the girly/fem-fem themes that have been popping up all over the place – why this renewed obsession in being a girl?  Is it suddently ok to look overtly like a girl without surrendering your feminist attitude?  Is it about pure submission to exaggerated youth?  All deep questions and all apparently needing answers especially when Paris was over.

However, back to Jenny Fax.  Just to recap, Jen Fang is originally from Taiwan and now lives in Japan, having worked for Mikio Sakabe.  Her debut collection 'I am Me' raised a few comments of puzzlement and I suppose I should have continued investigating her work as her S/S 12 collection here, her third, has proved to be another brain buster.  Fang spoke of her childhood going to a strict boarding girl's school whilst watching American soap operas such as Twin Peaks and My Two Dads, when explaining the beginnings of this collection.  Those were the two she cited but to my mind, there were many more you could have pulled out of the bag – Carrie, Pretty in Pink, Saved by the Bell – any 80s/90s film or sitcome episode with a prom scene could have gone in there.  Cue giant puffball sleeves, the sort that even Napoleon Dynamite would be impressed with.  On top of that comes Fang's acutely specific cultural mix – Japanese culture which in turn bled into Fang's own Taiwanese upbringing.  The riffs on the Japanese school uniform that reminded you of any old Japanese anime or film that had school girls running around were inescapable as blouses with neckties, pleated skirts and socks with velcro trainers (the unbranded sort with pink pearlescent trim) and loafers were rife.  Then there was the literal use of glittering manga eyes that veered from looking cute to eerie at times. 

The analytical chat goes on as Fang seemed to be dissecting the mentality and hierachy of a girls school along with yearnings for an American prom that she only fantasised about but never experienced.  This sort of fantasy probably plays out for all non-prom-people who fed off prom culture through American imported films and TV.  It ended up being uncanny how MUCH I personally related to the collection especially when Fang's own 13-year old sister featured in the show and she very bluntly pointed out that she wasn't as thin or as pretty as the other models.  My youngest sister could possibly be classified in the same box and it's with the sort of Chinese bluntness that my relatives all employ, that I can even say that out loud without feeling like a horrible sister (you'll probably still say that I am one…).  By the way, this is the same kind of Chinese bluntness that means aunts in Hong Kong greet me with "You've look fatter." as opposed to "How are you?".  Fang pointedly used her sister in the show to illustrate that Jenny Fax as a brand was born out of trying to question ideals of beauty and this collection in particular seems to make a point that less-than-conventionally-attractive girls want to dress up too but as Fang's sister illustrates, in a way that suits them (see stompy boots and non-cutesy leather tie-up waistcoats).  

In this imaginary girl's school set-up, Jenny Fax hasn't gone for total school hierarchical cliches.  I suppose a girl's school is somewhat different from the American high school norms (err… mine had a Socialism Society…).  There are the oddballs, the pretty ones, the cutesy ones, the bookish ones, the sporty ones, the outsiders – all represented here with slightly differing quirks.  There are the ones that want to shy away from any notion of being sexy and the ones that are exploring it in a latent way.  They wear their sexual experience by way of exposed G-strings underneath sheer pleated skirts or by toting oversized versions of their boyfriend's sweaters as a status symbol of having a boyfriend.  All of these observations couldn't escape me and my not-so-idyllic teenage years at my secondary girl's school.

There's a shedload more stuff I could delve into but that might end up in a blubby fest that would have me digging up old photos from HBS (my school) and reading extinct emo-laden Livejournal entries.  Instead let's stop there and ask whether Jenny Fax's collection has any wearing worth beyond juicy analysis?  It's easy to see the Meadham Kirchhoff vibes of this collection and whilst the themes of girlhood are explored in an entirely different way, I'd pick up Jenny Fax's pieces for the same reason as I do with Meahdam Kirchhoff – the thought process slays you as much as the clothes themselves.  Therefore it's a yes to navy pinafores with neon cable knit pattern embroidery, yes to neat little blouses, yes to manga character sweaters, yes to sheer red boleros and yes to velcro trainers too (even if they're not Jenny's…).  Me thinks my non prom-queen status disqualifies me from the super rounded puffball sleeves though…

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5 comments

Leave a comment
  1. nikkistyle

    2011-10-19 at 6:01 PM

    WOW! Love the concept!

  2. catandthechoir

    2011-10-19 at 6:44 PM

    Yum! Love it!! Especially the armless blazer – can see that working with skinny black or leather pants and oversized jill sander shirt? Love your blog!
    just started my own one having been inspired by so many of these amazing blogs! including yours!! 🙂
    sj
    http://catandthechoir.blogspot.com/

  3. FASHIONOTES

    2011-10-20 at 7:03 PM

    Those bubble shoulders are amazing!
    http://fashionotes.com

  4. Serdane

    2011-10-20 at 11:36 PM

    OMG the pictures are so funny and so impressive !! I am always stunned by the way this kind of show could present us… a clear genie in the search of style….
    http://www.younglington.blogspot.com

  5. lynn

    2011-10-21 at 10:54 AM

    i like this style ,fashionable,very like

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