You'd think that print wouldn't be all that exciting to me coming from a city which excels at it in so many ways. Then I get to Tokyo and I still manage to have a chuckle at Japanese duo mintdesigns' prints which were first on display in a retrospective start to the show to celebrate their ten year anniversary and then in their S/S 12 show. That's a chuckle as in a genuine broad smile by the by, not a laugh at their expense.
The designers Nao Yagi and Hokuto Katsui behind mintdesigns have have spent a decade of refining a print placement methodology that believes wearable and simple shapes are the best foundations for their zany messaging. Be it hot air balloons, wordplay or clip-art type symbols, you're never alarmed at the print because the shape of the garment is so approachable. Mintdesigns seem to excel at making friendly clothes that want to give you a hug, not unlike designers such as Peter Jensen or Eley Kishimoto.
There's a similar application of wit that is best seen in their S/S 12 collection in this beautifully crafted lace and velvet devore fabric where words of kitsch positivity burst forth – 'Happy Mistake', 'New Hope', 'Lovely' – you see why it was impossible for me not to smile? The message was especially potent at a newly revived Tokyo Fashion Week (read my compact round-up of it on Style.com) that after the year's events could do with as much upbeat messaging as possible. Raised favour circles, lame star prints and striped sheer organza cocoons complete Mintdesigns' S/S 12 collection that will please their fans. Katsuya Kamo (hair and make-up artist of Chanel 'paper headpieces' fame) also assisted the show greatly with his delicate bejewelled branches atop of the models' hair.
I stopped by their sweet basement 'garage' store at Shibuya's Parco and couldn't help but be swayed by their current A/W 11-12 collection. Piped fleecy lines in chequered formation on a pair of trousers were just the ticket for me to buy my first mintdesigns piece. Never mind the textural complexity of the piece. I mean just looking at these lines reminds me of all things good – lines of buttercream icing, the bright corals on juicy scallops and Japanese peach candies. Alongside a Louise Gray shirt, an Issey Miyake bargain of a cardigan from Yoox and a pair of Simone Rocha's sculptural ponyhair brogues, there was plenty of touchy feely here to shock the gentle surroundings of Westgate-on-Sea, where I hid away for the weekend.