Whilst everybody in fashion-land has been musing on the seemingly breakneck speed of the industry, the overheating of the red hot spotlight on creative directors and the lack of trust between the money-men and the designers, I’ve been in fact, doing my own bit to try and preserve some sanity in my head. I wouldn’t even dare to compare what I do with that of say, a designer churning out six or more collections a year. But sometimes, there comes a point where your head is oversaturated with talk about the meanings of collections, biz-chat of where the “fashion media landscape” is going (a subject that crops up over the dinner table as my partner also works in fashion) and when fashion as an entity and in its conduct, is yes… too much.
After the craziness of Seoul Fashion Week, I headed for the hills. Literally, with a one night pit stop in Tokyo, I then took a train out to Hakone, to absorb Henry Moore sculptures lounging on lush forested land and see quaint little museums for no real purpose other than just to see stuff, to submerge myself in the waters of an onsen and to witness the beginning of the changing of colours. Fashion’s seasons might be blurring into a cacophony of pre, cruise, mainline and diffusion but in Japan, the seasons are highly distinct and well observed, to the point where people here will audibly gasp at the burnished tones of a maple leaf tree and use their sharpest lenses to capture these autumnal scenes. Hakone wasn’t in full fall yet, and neither was Kyoto, which was where I have just returned from after a three day first-timer exploration of the ancient Japanese capital. But the colours are just beginning to change. As the winds of fashion are ushering in new changes, I thought I’d take the time to observe the passing of a different sort of season in Japan, as this semblance of journeying from Hakone to Kyoto made for the perfect respite, away from fashion natter.
Perhaps it is all only vaguely style related. But as Raf Simons has concluded in his decision to leave Dior, there is more to life than fashion and to alter what Diana Vreeland once said, the eye has to travel but it needs time in order to do so. If I’ve zen-ed out on you too much with my quasi-Confuscian like musings, then so be it. It’s my opportunity to slow things right down so I’ve divied up my pics into a two parter, aptly named after my go-to karaoke Disney song. The first of which is all about the quiet and still you could feel in most parts of Hakone, in the quieter corners of Kyoto and in the green bamboo shadows of Arashiyama.
Along the way to my road to peace, my trusty companion was a M. Patmos travel suit, that I’ve been road testing as part of my ongoing work with Woolmark. it’s from the capsule collection that won Marcia Patmos the esteemed International Woolmark Prize earlier in the year, which was inspired by a wardrobe for the modern woman – a traveller, nomad and a businesswoman all in one. The six piece capsule collection capitalises on Merino wool’s ability to be soft, lightweight, wrinkle-free so that it can be worn without washing for long periods of time. In neutral tones of cream and grey, where scarves become neck pillows, beanies regulate temperature and capes become blankets, Patmos has approached the collection, with utility and versatility in mind. The collection just recently launched at Harvey Nichols in-store as well as Saks Fifth Avenue and My Theresa online.
As a frequent traveller, I’ve got to say I was completely swayed by the idea of a “travel suit” – something that puts you at ease when you’re in an artificial environment high up in the air, whilst enabling you to feel like you’ve not just slept walked onto the plane in your PJ’s. Patmos’ iteration is entirely reversible and has large passport pockets in the trousers with ribbed insets for movement. And so it is that I’ve basically been wearing this suit to death in transit – from London to Korea, Korea to Tokyo and on the train rides from Tokyo to Hakone and then on the Shinakensen to Kyoto, with varying layers underneath. It has become almost like a comfort blanket for passing through time zones, lounges, food courts and the tedious process of security and immigration and also proved to be the most appropriate attire to take in all this greenery.
In the wabi sabi principled space of the Gora Hanaougi ryokan, where we stayed in Hakone, I was trying my best to “Monocle” it up, away from my usual colours, prints and other accoutrements. Whether it was swaying with the silver-toned pampas grasses of Sengokuhara or skipping around moss-covered rocks in Arashiyama on the edge of Kyoto, it felt good to quieten things down a little. Cue lots of pics with my eyes closed. They’re resting up. Tired out from all the noise.
Inside the lush grounds of the Hakone Open Air Museum, where works by Henry Moore, Niki de Saint Phalle and Antony Gormley are dotted about.
The extraordinary outsider sand art of Yusuke Asai at the Hakone Open Air Museum
In front of the twee but charming The Museum of Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince