It seems a bit reductive to go with the David Bowie tide and lump Maison Margiela’s latest Artisanal show as a “tribute” (does that word end up feeling a bit hollow and disingenuous, when it crops up time and time again in headlines?).  I’d argue that John Galliano’s character – particularly the one he has been carefully etching out at the Maison – has always been a bit of a starman or woman.  Out of this world.  Not of this planet.  Travelling in mysterious ways across continents and time epochs to gather up vibes and textiles to put together ensembles that are embedded with stories, design quirks and of course Galliano’s deft cutting hand.

Of course, it’s hard not to look at Pat McGrath and Eugene Souleiman’s power combo of Ziggy Stardust wigs and glam rock face painted insignia and think “Bowie”.  But strip that away and what you in fact have are clothes that are a textiles enthusiast’s dream, crafted not for showmanship and surface-driven pizzaz but as an ode to hidden layers – revealed through torn and shredded appearances.  It’s like the fashion equivalent of stripping wallpaper, where layer upon layer of different decades have been concealed.  

Some of the descriptions are deliciousness all by themselves…
scrunched ash wood fabric, fil coupé jacquard, lacquered Miao cotton, grain de poudre wool

No wonder the show made you want to reach out and feel it more, even as the models were walking in whirring speed to an appropriately chosen pacy remix of Edith Piaf’s Mon Manège à Moi (You’re my Carousel).  The contrasts and contradictions that Galliano proposed seemed the most well-executed to date, since he joined the Maison.  It wasn’t just about a lofty concept or idea, but these are uniquely hybrid garments that worked and felt evocative.  Like a polo shirt dress with a floral pattern zig-zagging its way into the stripes.  Or a belted safari jacket and trench coat blooming with brocade rips.  Or the finale piece – not the Galliano favoured wedding gown – but an MA-1 jacket exploding with all of that sumptuous jacquard, fil coupé and lamé.

Sometimes these bursts of richness would come at your unexpectedly, as seen in a black blazer, gushing with a sweeping prom dress-esque pink and orange cloqué.  Sometimes you’d get surprising touches of earthiness in the form of Fair Isle hand warmers and inoffensive vintage t-shirt prints.  All the white, Galliano’s Far Eastern pre-occupation lingered in the form of Korean paper prints, bonsai and butterfly motif lace, and the bulging volumes of fabric bundled on the back, like the horo forms of protection worn by samurais.  If you’re a fabric magpie, you can’t help but be drawn into Galliano’s layerings of techniques and custom made textiles.  This time round, none of them felt like haphazard experiments of a couture laboratory.  These were the finished article, well-rounded, well-judged and ultimately, sets a lasting tone for the Maison’s ready to wear.

 

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Catching up on BBC4 on iPlayer is always a joy. Their documentary showcase Storyville in particular makes me beam and the latest film ‘The Golden Age Circus: The Show of Shows’ directed by Benedikt Erlingsson, almost made me want to double up on my TV licence fee.  The hour and fifteen minute long film cleverly edits archive clips of circus acts, fairground scenes and moribund freak shows from their early 20th century heyday.  With zero voiceover and a mesmerising Sigur Ros soundtrack, watching displaced footage of middle-aged clowns, sad stripteases, the gross maltreatment of wild animals and one particularly disconcerting scene where children are boxing for entertainment, made me think of a different circus altogether.

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No, not the one that Suzy Menkes so famously wrote about in 2013 for the NYTimes, which subsequently got cited in every thesis/talk/lecture/dissertation/debate about the rise of digital media, blogging and the evolution of street style in the fashion industry.  I, of course wrote my own reply, which I still largely stand by.

Today though the clowns I think of aren’t the ones standing outside a show hoping to get photographed.  It’s the accumulation of stunts, sets, social media celebrities and spectacles that have been collectively building up to a clowning crescendo, with the hope of catching our attention, our likes and follows and ultimately, our cash.  Even as the clothes – supposedly the main protagonist – get lost in this weird din.

The circus is far more sprawling and convoluted than a few outlandishly dressed chancers.  It’s an appropriate metaphor for the confusion that the fashion industry is feeling as we bid adieu to 2015 and say hello to 2016 – the former ending with the shock announcements of Raf Simons departing from Dior and Alber Elbaz from Lanvin, and the latter beginning with a fresh investigation into the state of fashion week as the CFDA is currently beginning its seven week study on NYFW, conducted by Boston Consulting Group.  They will be probing industry insiders on how a “broken system” can change.  I’ll be one of the many contributing to this study.  Where to begin, eh?

What or who is a fashion show for?  Customers, press or buyers?  Oh but wait, add influencers and their super fans to that category as Vine stars and K-pop singers bring their own impressionable audience to the fashion party.  When should a fashion show be shown?  There’s talk of shifting spring/summer shows to February and autumn/winter shows to September so that they are shown at the same time as they hit stores.  Or even aligning them with January and June to coincide with pre-collections.  What sort of format should a show take or should there be shows or pre-ambling press attention full stop?  Thomas Tait doesn’t seem to think he’ll benefit from a show as he’ll only be showing his collection on a private appointment basis and Proenza Schouler has adopted the Céline approach of not allowing any imagery or press about their pre-collection until it drops into stores in April.

All of this compounding with the fact that the role of the journalist, tirelessly reviewing every single show is fast changing.  Word on the inside from a few editors is that that show reviews and in-depth coverage don’t drive a huge amount of traffic on websites, and so editors have opted for a deluge of Buzzfeed-esque lists and a decreasing word count – easily generated to prop up the stats.  And so we have the fashion week circus monitored, dictated and in my opinion, restricted by numbers.  Numbers in traffic stats, that rely on numbers of buzz-worthy moments in fashion week that will get you those spikes.  Numbers of followers, likes and tagged posts.  Numbers of eyeballs on a livestream.  The numbers in the profits that follow the number of £££’s spent on a show.

Except to reduce fashion to a numbers games leaves you jaded and cynical.  When you see designers parroting cliches in interviews backstage after a show.  Or when brands make sweeping digital-driven gestures,  that feel more like jumping on the bandwagon rather than genuine motivation for fashion’s democratisation.  Like the caged up animals forced to dance or do silly tricks in the Erlingsson film.  .

Furthermore, the main question for me is can the influence of a content creator – be it magazine, Instagram IT person or website and the aesthetic/artistic merit of a collection or a show be measured purely by numbers?  Are we omitting the more intangible and emotive-driven forces that made us fall for fashion in the first place?  How is it that the faff that makes up the numbers-driven fashion week circus, don’t really figure into the routinely moving, independent and stand out shows of the season (Dries van Noten, Comme des Garçons, Rick Owens etc…)?  How do we place the emphasis back on the sole reason why all of those aforementioned numbers even exist – what should be the driving force in the conversation, which are the clothes and behind them, the creativity that spawned them.

I therefore have to thank BBC4 for that hour and fifteen minutes spent pondering fashion’s own circus.  But enough about the industry’s existential problems, because roll up, roll up… S/S 16 has some stellar showwomen (and men), freaks and out-there performers that shares similar vibes with the golden age of the circus.  Thankfully, despite my own preponderance to overanalyse the noise of the big top, in my head, the main attraction that draws the crowds in, are still the clothes.

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circusf2From top to bottom: Marc Jacobs S/S 16, Gareth Pugh S/S 16, illustrated magazine covers by Ana Strumpf, RuPaul’s Drag Race GIF, Moschino S/S 16, Gypsy Sport S/S 16, Givenchy S/S 16

Image sources: Christopher Lee SauveRebekah Campbell, Getty Images, Vogue.com, NYTimes, TMagazine, Schon Magazine, i-D, BFC

Once my parents realised that I’m not in fact just cruising through a ‘fake career’ of swanning around fashion shows and ‘playing’ at being a journalist, they’ve both been hugely enthusiastic – nay, insistent that I should go back to Hong Kong more often and in their words, ‘ply my trade’.  As in, take whatever supposed expertise I have and flaunt it in my motherland.  I, of course am dubious about the idea.  As I’ve said before, Hong Kong – whilst spiritually/technically is where my roots are – it isn’t what I really know.  Its creative and fashion industry for instance is still, largely an unknown entity to me.  The lay of the land seems to change all the time, as the rents in the central areas are so extortionate that any interesting shop/creative endeavour that pops up might disappear the next time you’re there.

IMG_8135Wearing Celine top, Minki Cheng skirt, Nike x Liberty Air Rifts and Loewe bag in front of a deep-rooted tree near Hollywood Road, Central

This time round though, I would have a guiding hand to take me on a very different Hong Kong journey than the short and fleeting trips I have been on before.  Redress had invited me out to be on the judging panel for their EcoChic Design Award, a competition now in its fifth cycle that encourages emerging fashion designers to create collections with minimal textile waste.  EcoChic taps up either current students or recent graduates at the beginning of their careers and educates them on the fashion industry’s negative environmental impacts and encourages them to take up techniques in zero-waste, up-cycling and reconstruction (a helpful glossary here gives you definitive meanings of these terms).  Essentially, it’s about planting the seeds in a new generation of designers to be better equipped to ingrain sustainable practises into their design outlook from the get go.  For these designers, it’s not about ticking a green box because it’s the right thing to do, but because they’re genuinely excited about what they can create with the limitations of materials and techniques and will incorporate this way of working into their own labels or even as future employees at design houses.

In addition to judging the ten finalists, I also went along with them to their workshops in the run-up to the final show to also learn about textiles waste, created by both consumers and manufacturing, in a region of Asia, where fast fashion and fleeting trends are fed by an eager customer as well as a hugely profiteering industry.  For this five day trip, I had a fly-on-the-wall film crew documenting my every step, that will hopefully result in a video series of some sort but for now, here’s the picture-and-words rundown.


On the first day with the finalists, we all drove up to Sheung Shui in New Territories, near the border between Hong Kong and China to see a textiles recycling facility, where clothes collected from banks dotted all over the city are gathered up, sorted and then bundled up to be sent off to third world countries.  That of course in itself, creates its own economic problems, but as a solution, is far preferable to the clothes that go into general landfill, if they’re dumped into the rubbish bin as opposed to designated clothing bins.

In comparison to the LM Barry recycling centre in East London, which I visited a while ago, the scale was a lot smaller here and perhaps more ramshackle in its sorting methodology, as local ladies milled about, sorting the clothes into haphazard piles.  It’s a valiant effort to deal with what is an acute problem in population-heavy, space-lacking Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, approximately 106,945 tonnes of textiles were sent into landfills in 2014.  That’s approximately an average of 12,000 garments going into the bins, every HOUR.  To compare, the UK chucks away 350,000 tonnes of textiles – which is of course insane in itself but Hong Kong of course is geographically smaller and has about a ninth of the population of UK.  To throw an even more frightening figure out there, in China the total annual production of pre and post-consumer textile waste is estimated to be around 26 million tonnes.

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We were there to visualise consumer textiles waste but also for the EcoChic finalists, they were there to theoretically imagine what they could do to elevate and repurpose the clothes that have been disposed of so casually.  Christina Dean, founder of Redress was there to spur on the students as she herself spent a year in 2013, dressing exclusively in found clothes from recycling plants such as this one.  The students were paired off and given superbrands like Dior, Chanel and Gucci and asked to recreate the look of these brands with pieces they could find in the warehouse.

I myself jokingly participated by running around the vicinity with last year’s EcoChic Design Award winner Kévin Germanier to create a slapdash J.W. Anderson-inspired outfit, complete with oddball accessory (the plush taxi toy) and weird print (some mumsy top that you might find in Mong Kok’s Ladies Market).  I would have totally taken the outfit away to wear if I was allowed.

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It’s a simple enough exercise, with the point being that with just a few hours of cutting garments up and picking out interesting details, designers can show you that these clothes shouldn’t have gone into the recycling bins in the first place (even if they are destined to be bundled up for resale).  The scary thing of course is thinking of the amount of clothes in Hong Kong that don’t end up in a facility like the one we saw at Sheung Shui.

The competition finalists deftly picked out some choice pieces that didn’t even require much alteration to turn into outfit-ready ensembles, as in the case of Gucci.  Funnily enough, some fake Chanel pieces turned up that were ready to be cut up into an ‘ironic’ logomania outfit.  The Dior team proposed some clever zero-waste pattern cutting techniques that would have certainly impressed Raf Simons, if he were still helming the house.

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From consumer waste, we moved on to manufacturing waste, as the next day, we headed up to Dongguan, one of the epicentres of manufacturing in Guangdong.  As soon as you neared the edges of Dongguan, you’d pass by vast factory complexes everywhere, accompanied by uplifting slogans, as befits a city that is China’s third largest exporter of goods, behind Shanghai and Shenzhen.  We were there to visit TAL, a Hong Kong-based manufacturer that supplies the likes of Burberry, Brooks Brothers and J.Crew with polo shirts, outerwear, suiting and primarily what we saw, dress shirts.  In fact, TAL are responsible for manufacturing one SIXTH of USA’s dress shirts.  This was certainly a level of mass volume and efficient manufacturing, which I’d never seen before.

I have though had some childhood awareness of Dongguan’s reliance on clothing manufacture.  My ancestry can be traced back to a village in Dongguan and ten year old me remembers vaguely visiting a few smaller scale clothing factories in the region that at the time in the late 90s were already expanding rapidly.  You of course come to understand the contrasting fortunes of clothing manufacturing versus say, the more arduous and traditional agriculture industry that prevailed in the region.

Therefore I’ve long known that Made in China doesn’t necessarily equate to the sweatshops or inferior quality that perhaps people think of when faced with the label.  TAL is perhaps a stellar example of “innofacturing” – using data to drive their quest for quality and speed, as well as taking their own CSR seriously to aid productivity.  We weren’t there specifically to inspect worker’s conditions but just one look at the staff canteens, on-site dormitories, worker’s incentive charts on the walls and regular sirens for worker’s breaks, demonstrated a safe and healthy working environment.

With the finalists, we toured the factory to look at how TAL are tackling textiles waste at each stage of production.  For TAL, it of course makes business sense to save energy and resources wherever they can, to the point where fabric scraps are used to make worker’s aprons, bins and chair covers.  The factory is decked out in shirting checks and stripes.  The real savings are made at the pattern layout process where technicians are awarded monthly for their ability to fit all the pattern pieces of a garment into a length of fabric, and reducing fabric waste to just under 10%.  When I, along with the finalists tried to complete the task on the computer, we couldn’t even fit all the pieces in, let alone reduce waste.  Geometry fail.

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patterncuttingOur failed attempt versus the pattern perfect minimal-waste pattern cutting solution.  

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In addition, water used to wash and steam fabrics along the way is recycled back through to the water systems of the dormitories and textiles waste from the cutting process is sent off to be reprocessed into another fabric.  Quality checks are firmly implemented at several stages of the process, to ensure that there aren’t any product ‘rejects’ at the end of the manufacturing line.  If there are for instance, any defects found in the fabric, then they are mended or turned into seams/pockets to prevent any wastage.

At the end of the day though, the finalists were given the opportunity to present further proposals to minimise waste to the people at TAL.  Specifically in the packaging process*, which sees most of TAL’s shirts wrapped up in a mass of tissue paper, cardboard, ribbon and plastic.  Simple solutions such as rolling the shirts, as opposed to folding them, could reduce energy and waste in packaging.  On the part of TAL, there seemed to be a genuine intent to listen to suggestions, especially when it came to the dealing of waste in energy and materials.

*By the by, I now know why it is I’m so rubbish at ironing Steve’s shirts.  It’s because I’m not an obsessive crease-freak like the packers at TAL, who get every seam and box pleat super sharp.

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When it came to judging the finalists’ collections, it seemed that sustainable practise had really taken hold so much so that veteran judges of the EcoChic competition noted the impressive nature of the ideas that we were being presented with, and the way that these ideas could be implemented on a larger scale in the industry.  As a newcomer judge, I was just impressed full stop at the breadth of techniques and approaches, within the main areas of zero-waste, reconstruction and upcycling.  And on the emphasis on the power of the hand and what a personal touch can craft.

Cora Belotto, who hails from Italy but now resides in Spain, produced a sentiment-filled collection entitled ‘Love Endings’ that gave a second life to wedding gowns and bridal trousseaus filled with lovely linens and bedding fabrics.  Silks and chiffons are tightly handwoven into decorative panels and vintage linens are bleached and quilted to create jackets.  It’s a collection that asks the wearer to treasure these textiles and it made you wonder how many dusty wedding trousseaus out there could benefit from the same treatment.  Belotto was awarded the second prize of being mentored by Orsola de Castro, who has judged EcoChic right from the start.

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Wang Di from Beijing decided to deal with the waste produced at the beginning of a designer’s career by looking at the discarded calicos and foam fabric from her fellow students at the Beijing Fashion Institute.  Iron burns and sharp creases feature heavily in Di’s collection that deals with stains in a graphic way by either clever patchworking or making flaws more pronounced so that they become a design feature.  She also used zero-waste cutting to create the knitted foam pieces and indigo dyeing to contrast with the unsightly brown, which Di sees as beautiful.

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Esther Lui from Hong Kong already witnesses textiles waste, working for a local bridal label.  She confronts it head on by placing the excess of clothing care labels into the patterns of her collection, creating three-dimensional raised textures as well as panelling it on the bias on floor-sweeping gowns.  It’s an interesting way of approaching immediate waste from her previous collections and local factories and tailors.

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Tsang Fan Yu is a fan of Japanese wabi-sabi and zen culture.  It shows in his red-centric, free-flowing collection that is made up of organic hemp and pineapple fibres, that are themselves the product of end-of-roll textiles.  But it is Yu’s pattern cutting techniques that impresses with a vest dress with a webbed opening, cut out from fabric that means only 8% of fabric is discarded.  His thinking is that simple pattern cutting and free sizing can tackle textiles waste, which incidentally chimes in with his zen-like approach towards fashion.

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Amy Ward believes that sustainable fashion can be fun and need not lecture the end consumer.  Her vibrantly-hued knitwear and abundance of pom poms certainly spell out fun.  But it’s the making of them that impresses, as she sourced her yarns from unravelled knitwear and cut-up end-of-rolls of jersey.  They all then underwent a painstaking trail and error of natural dyeing techniques that resulted in shades of yellow, duck egg blue, terracotta and pinks by using age-old-tested things like tumeric, red cabbage and onion skin.  Ward thought about the ways in which perhaps she could work with the bi-products of the food industry to further her use of natural dyes.  The results are pretty breathtaking as a cacophony of colours come together in harmony, perhaps because the raw materials are all derived from nature.

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Belle Benyasarn looked at the immediate waste in her hometown Bangkok and came up with ingenious ways of dealing with say, excess textiles used in Playboy merchandise or Sanrio products.  With an awareness of the local craft of handweaving, Benyasarn creates artisanal handwoven textiles out of cut-up strips of factory waste from leather goods manufacturers, that aren’t unlike the work of Faustine Steinmetz in London.  It’s definitely an impressive level of transformation from lining fabrics that were once marked with the logos of big corporations.

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Pan Wen from China wanted to contrast animal skin against a human one by collating leather off-cut scraps and felting them with wool to recreate the textures of a 15th century tapestry that depicts a hunting scene.  There’s a deliberate rawness to Wan’s collection that emphasises perhaps the needless waste in the fashion industry and with scraps and off-cuts, she’s able to create a delicate painterly textile effect.

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Annie Mackinnon’s collection is right up my aesthetic street what with her Kandinsky-esque paintings and free-hand illustrations that grace cut-up second hand bed sheets, patched and ripped to avoid pattern cutting waste.  Her work really centres around the hand and the ability to see a new lease of life in unwanted textiles.  Like many of her fellow finalists, Mackinnon doesn’t want to pigeon hole sustainable fashion into a beige and basic box.  Her cut-and-paste approach may not be for everyone but I personally like the unapologetic warts-and-all show of where the fabrics came from.

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Sara Kiani was the third finalist to use old bedsheets but her idea has legs to be taken further as a fully fledged business idea as she looked at the discarded bedsheets of luxury hotels in London, contacting a laundry contractor that takes care of London’s hotel laundry to source her supply of cotton sheets.  They were then made up into an all-white collection of shirts and dresses, inspired by traditional cheongsams.  She also cut up sheets into balls of yarn that was then knitted up into a new textile.  The point was to remind onlookers of the fact these clothes came from hotel bedsheets but Kiani did say that you could transform the sheets further with dyeing, embellishment or more advanced fabric transformations.  It’s certainly an innovative way of dealing with an area of textiles waste that most of us don’t even think about, and as the rest of the judging panel noted, an idea that could actually be implemented on a larger scale.

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It was perhaps a shame that there was only one big prize winner as I felt all the finalists had something to bring to the table and each contributed quite sound ideas.  Perhaps what made Patrycja Guzik‘s collection stand out was the complete transformation from the source materials to the final garment.  None of the textiles looked like end-of-rolls waste or unwanted textiles.  The vibrant purple colour palette was so deliberately artificial looking that it took you away completely from the upcycling techniques that Guzik employed.  From her native Poland, Guzik found damaged tweed from a local textiles factory and end-of-roll polyester, that was reprinted with a distinctive graphic.  Tufted knitwear made out of unravelled yarns added another dimension to this texture-heavy collection.  It was perhaps the most visually well-rounded collection of all the finalists and didn’t take on any of the aesthetic aspects of what we have come to associate with upcycled or sustainable fashion.

From observing the finalists in the various workshops though, it’s clear that the taking part really did matter more than the competition itself.  It’s an opportunity for like-minded young designers to come together, exchange thoughts and trade experiences, given that the finalists have come from all over Europe and Asia.  Some have still got BA’s to complete or MA’s to embark on.  Some are already working designers or in the process of setting up their own labels.  They will all be going forth into the industry with the belief they can propel change.  Only now, with our collective changing attitude towards sustainability in fashion, it’s not a distant hope, but a distinct reality.

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I’m currently in Hong Kong as a judge for the Eco Chic Design Award competition, organised by environmental NGO Redress and diving deep into minimal/zero waste design solutions with the finalists.  As a small sideline bonus to that, I’m carrying back at least five kilos worth of Chinese New Year’s related snacks and Asian fashion magazines for “research”.  In regular Japanese favourite So-En, I spotted a knit dress by a label I hadn’t heard of previously.  Seeing as it took me about half an hour to decipher and translate the katakana characters, I best write something about it here.  Akane Utsonomiya, alongside mame, which I’ve written about before and Cleana, which I came across in Dover Street Market Ginza last time I was in Tokyo, represent a triumvirate of a “cleaner” side to the Japanese fashion scene today.  I hesitate to use that other c word – the much overused and often misunderstood “chic” but I suppose in comparison to the tired cliches about Japanese fashion – that it’s all kawaii craziness and madcap styling – it’s as good a word as any.

A more accurate way of looking at these labels is that they have aesthetic attributes that enable them to translate to an audience outside of the often inward looking and domestic direction of Japanese fashion.  It might mean that some of the designs are likely to chime in with their contemporaries in Europe or USA but nonetheless it makes for a refreshing change to say, conceptual silhouettes or hyper experimentalism (which I’m of course down with as well).

First off – mame‘s S/S 16 collection, which I haven’t had the fortune of seeing in person, up close but from the pictures, it’s clear designer Maiko Kuroguchi has once again used regional Japanese textiles craftsmanship to her full advantage.  Her dream-like vision of New Mexico – prompted by Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist and the central protagonist’s search for finding treasure in Egypt – sees Kuroguchi unearthing precious and warmth-imbued textiles.  The dusty colour palette of New Mexico gives way to shades like “white-green” – like cactus covered in a white furry sheen.  The collection runs a gamut from delicate floral embroideries to rugged blanket capes and layered denim pieces.  There are also interesting ways of revealing the flesh like cut-outs on the upper arms or at the side of the chest contrasted with the covered up huipil-esque robes that is right up my summer attire alley.  Suddenly I’m being enticed by the thought of driving across an arid desert to Roswell in these exact clothes.  Kuroguchi sure knows how to enable her Japanese-grown textiles to travel well.  

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I’ve talked about the idea of designers doing one thing only and doing it very well.  Well, Takuya Tobise has taken it one step further with his brand Cleana revolving around skirts, and only skirts.

CLEANA makes only skirts.  If you pick CLEANA’s skirt, It changes your atmosphere, just wearing with your simplest tops.

That’s what it says on the website and so Cleana does exactly what it says it does on the tin.  The collection of skirts by itself manages to have a balance between consistency and variety, to keep things interesting.  There are pleats.  There’s a few A-lines.  There’s a ruffled bustle.  There’s even a 2-in-1 dual skirt for layering fiends.  All you need is indeed a simple top and you’re good to go.

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Finally, we have Akane Utsunomiya, whose knit dress with a cut strip skirt caught my eye in the latest issue of So-En.  After completing her BA in textiles at Central Saint Martin’s, she notched in a year on the knitwear MA pathway but then decided to start her own knitwear label in 2009.  For her S/S 16 collection, she has a go at creating “complexity that looks simple”.  In other words, maximal effect with minimal lines.  The illlusion of simplicity is created with the cut-strips motif that features in a lot of the knitted dresses, tops and skirts as well as the elongated sleeve that continues that straight vertical line of Utsunomiya’s silhouette.  I especially love the proportion of the oversized slubby striped jumper that looks like it has been stretched when pulled over the knees in a curled up foetal position.  I’ve yet to come across her work internationally but it’s easy to see the appeal translating beyond Japan.

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