There were many high notes at Tokyo Fashion Week but the superhigh note didn't come until the double whammy show of Anrealage and Mintdesigns. You'd think in a joint show, there might be one designer that shows up the other but both were equally strong warranting one post here for Anrealage and another for Mintdesigns on another day. Designer Kunihiko Morinaga is the man behind Anrealage (a combination of the words 'real, unreal and age'). He started out in 2005 and has since been putting out collections that combine the best of a surreal aesthetic appeal along with wearability. A scroll through his archive and you'll find concepts that can be likened to old Viktor & Rolf shows or of course, the mothership of most Tokyo fashion week designers, Rei Kawakubo. It's not surprising to see why Kawakubo is so influential on newer generation of Japanese fashion designers but it is interesting to note, that nobody ever really apes her directly but rather she's a background note, a force to respect but not to reinterpret.
With this particular S/S 12 collection entitled 'Shell', Morinaga attempts to push silhouette out by using plastic moulds heat fused with fabric which is most strikingly seen in the upper half bodies that are pushed out of their white dresses. The effect should be ridiculous given that a woman is walking around with what is essentially the top half of a dress form jutting out from their chests. Yet the skillful application of these plastic moulds together with the stiffening of pleats in this opening passage of dresses are utterly convincing, so much so that in my mind, there are no doubts as to the wearability of these pieces. It could be the use of pure white or the fact that the shape of the basic dresses themselves are quite simple. Nonetheless, Morinaga's interpretation of classical statues with the help of crude plastic packaging moulding yields fantastic results, especially when he then applies the technique to smaller details. A pair of sunglasses in a pocket, a pearl necklace, a rucksack cargo pockets squarely bulging out, a collar, belt and button holes that are raised on a checked trench coat make for more accessible pieces in the collection if statuesque silhouettes aren't your thing. Looking at past collections and seeing the pieces in real life, it's really quite a feat that Morinaga can create such an impactful visual statement on the catwalk whilst being able to sell those exacting pieces from the runway in stores, unlike the watered-down 'sales' collections that you see from other high-end designers. He magically convinced me that carrying around a plastic mould that would make me look quasi-pregnant id somehow desirable? How?!
It's clear that there was much obsessive technique trialling before this collection could happen. Apparently the plastics company that Anrealage worked with were dead excited about working on clothing. Japanese designers and their ability to create textiles from scratch is already a known fact but Morinaga's decidedly daring approach towards materials has certainly paid off and I hear there are whispers that that Anrealage could be the next Japanese name to make the crossover to Paris. I'd welcome that addition for sure…
Anrealage's store in Harajuku at the moment is similarly surreal reflection of their A/W 11-12 collection 'Low', a study of the low res pixel which sees prints and cut-outs on knits, jackets, scarves and as rubix-cube type heels, yet further proof that Morinaga's idea of fashion conceptuatlisation neednt be loftily unwerable.
Misha Janette of Tokyo Fashion Diaries, who was my veritable guide to all things Tokyo-fashion-industry related, showcases Anrealage's A/W 11-12 collection to the max with this 8-bit head to toe ensemble.