I'm notoriously crap at answering those formulaic fashion/style questions that get thrown at me on a daily basis. "What's the one item you would never wear?" I always facetiously answer with "Well, actually there aren't that many things that I wouldn't wear‚Ä¶" In actual fact, that's not true. It finally dawned on me at the Junya Watanabe show that a feathered headdress is something that I absolutely would not touch with a bargepole. I'm talking about the sort that grace countless girls in denim cut-off shorts, slogan tees and ironic war paint on their faces at festivals such as Coachella. They can be as simple as a headband with a simple splay of feathers or a full-on headdress that is just about the worse thing you can don as a way of mis-appropriating native American culture.
At the Watanabe show though, I was simultaneously struck by how much I hated feather headdresses and headbands but then backtracking as I watched this particular "tribe" stomp out in faux suede fringing and beading, a messy head of dreads, art gallerist homespun jewellery and yes, a head full of feathers. They looked glorious, majestic and incredibly evocative. Watanabe faced naff exotica and the all things "tribal" head-on. They didn't feel like a cringing misappropriation. These pheasant feathers that fluttered in all directions as though they naturally sprouted from the head was a visceral expression of globe trotting – a journey that went on in Watanabe's head that didn't deliberately try to evoke Africana/tribal/ethnic/any other word that often peppers these sorts of collections. Unlike the "Oh-so-rad" feathered specimens that one might find atop of countless heads at a festival.
Perhaps it's the scale that was most impressive. These feathers spanned over a metre in length in some cases and almost looked predatory as they bounced up and down in motion. Their naturalistic vastness also made them beautiful. I knew there'd always be exceptions to the rule and I'm mighty glad that exception has fallen upon Junya Watanabe. I can now answer that initial question with confidence. "I kind of hate feathered headdresses. Unless Junya Watanabe had a hand in them."