Continuing on from Part 1…
This brands prides itself on the use of imagination in their collections, ‘born’ in French is in the brand name, and they certainly fulfilled that criteria for their SS13 collection, called ‘Reborn’ . Bin bag dresses, knitted headpieces that looked to have spurted out of a five year-olds thoughts, and looks referencing different cultures and designs. Wholly wearable clothes. WHAT? Yes, wholly wearable clothes that were quite whimsy. This is extremely hard to achieve by a designer; pursuing a far-out idea but making it sellable is what Nicholas Ghesquière did at Balenciaga for 15 great years (I’m sad to see him go, but who knows what wunderkind-Wang will do with the brand? Make it more ‘hip’…) and here Kazuaki Takashima accomplishes this well. It seems as though the narrative of this collection was about a new species or alien species that comes and creates from the remnants of humans. First 3 bin bag looks, a white recycled dress and then a plaid dress inferred this transition from rubbish to treasure. In the clothes, this was shown by the patchworked prints, claws and other items used as part of a garment, like socks and gloves as collars. Un- hemmed clothing, stray fibres and postages stamps, plus propeller detailing on jumpers and dresses gave that far-away feeling; referring to flying and moving from one place to another. Many cultural references were included with some farmer girl looks, totally remixed, near the end. Look 52, the dress that looks like a watercolour painting , made me gasp at its beauty. That something reminiscent of a landscape could be so touchingly represented on a garment, with stitching used like brush marks and fabric used to separate parts of the image. I loved it.
First of all, let there be no illusions that PHENOMENON is a trendy (all underlined for emphasis) brand. The style of the street, music and PHENOMENON are perfectly intertwined, mainly because of the designer being founded by Japanese rappers and the hallmarks of these ideas being found in the collection. Cropped trouser suits had different style of blazers. Two-tone denim with the PHENOMENON branding on it. Two prints on one garment with the floral and camouflage combos and the black body blazer with polka dot sleeves . Bomber jackets in all colours and fabrics. Metallic shoes. Shiny short suits. Medium sized pouches and roll-top leather bags. PYJAMAS!! IN PAISLEY!! All common in Japanese streetstyle where contrasting elements of fashion are combined to create a coherent whole. The music reference mainly came in the form of caps, one in every look. However it still felt original, because of the ways in which these ‘trends’ were represented. The abundant floral, paisley, polka dot and tie-dye prints were used cleverly in the looks shown, like the black shirt and shorts ensemble with blue tie-dye that comes together perfectly. The repetitive shield pattern on oversized t-shirts didn’t get tiring because of the different ways in which it was styled and in the different iterations of colour and print. Mesh tanks and inserts were placed in places to make the wearer look more masculine while stylish. Looks had continuity with either similar materials used, or like the t-shirts, the same type of garment. The caps are sooo desirable as is everything in their offering. The most interesting ensembles were the ones towards the end, for example the beige tank top over floral shorts with high socks, tasselled loafers and ubiquitous cap. It shows the easier ideas of street fashion in the tank top and cap, and the more sartorial with shorts and loafers; but the combination is off the chain cool with high quality materials to create correct silhouette. Most importantly for me,with all other garments in the collection, it is wholly wearable. Big-O and Iggy wanted to explore a more personal brand, contrasting from their first line Swagger, that blurred the lines between street and luxury, and with SS13 what a stellar job they have done of that objective. Shop PHENOMENON here.
Jun Takahashi’s punk sensibilities shine through yet again in this collection, with references to the Talking Heads everywhere,on shirts, capes, jumpers and jackets. Talking Heads, now defunct, was an avant-garde, punk band part of the American New Wave and most popular during the 80’s and early 90’s. They took many references from esoteric and wildly different sources, for example afrobeat Fela Kuti and post-punk, New Wave music. The band was “one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the ’80s”, despite their far out sounds scored a Top 10 hit and have been featured on many ‘Greatest…’ lists. The ‘Stop Making Sense’ prints on garments reference the band’s 1984 concert movie. Why so much on them? Well, because they are the metaphor for Undercover, a brand which takes many different sources of ideas and fuses them with their individual identity to create something great. Here for SS13 they have selectively used patterns; mainly plaid , and materials; light down, leather, jersey, suede, synthetics…, with admittedly obvious references to design a true yet cohesive collection. Truth in the punk identity and Jun Takahashi’s diverse aesthetic and cohesive in the punk ideas that can be seen in each garment and in each look. The two-tone socks, beautiful shoes and high necked jackets are all very unique to Undercover. He has done this for quite a few collections now and may be a little tired of the punk as the 3 all white ensembles at the end of the collection suggest a new beginning for the designer. That or it could be another Talking Heads reference, as the band wore tonal outfits in Stop Making Sense. Whatever it is that he was trying to convey, the collection is still good. Though if Jun Takahashi does this, continual punk punk punk, for much longer it may get old. Let’s hope it doesn’t.
Images via undercoverism.com
For SS13, Hiroaki Shitano looked to Tokyo, the city he grew up in, with the “OFF CITY” collection. His designs are usually streetwear influenced though with this collection it was more of a synthesis between the different elements of a city man; work, play and rest. The workwear elements were found in the form of aprons and jumpsuits but I also think I saw some waist bags in there but I’m not too sure if they are attached to the aprons or standalone items. The more sartorial side of the city man came in blazers, trousers and a few boat shoes. Perfect Perfecto biker jackets, tonal cardigans, duffel gilets and technical jackets were off duty and jersey pants and t-shirts for the gym. Though to fuse these ideas, each garment had either two or three of these elements in them or the styling made the elements work seamlessly together. For example the trousers were cropped and worn with trainers. Apron-shirt hybrids and a work overall made of crisp suit fabric. Running shorts made in luxurious fabric were layered over pants or worn solely with simple black blazers. In one look, sweatpants were made of crisp cotton instead of the usual light jersey and In another, sweatpants were styled with peacoats; both to make them look more dressy. Technical jackets worn under blazers but made to look more formal in gingham print or worn over a blazer and made to look more street with eye catching patterns. The last look used all the ideas linked to a Tokyo city man and combined them into one with a blazer layered on top of a hoodie with apron-shirt hybrid, cropped trousers and trainers. It looked on point and easy to wear. The style of this collection was evident most in that look.
Many looks had tiger stripes on different garments; on pants, shirts, jackets and scarves, which may represent the fierceness and masculinity that makes the clothes more desirable or as hypebeast said: ” pops of colour that suggest city lights and urban signage” which is less deep and probably more truthful of the designer’s intentions. They add a nice touch either way. A dark palette was used throughout to emphasise the designs more, which also made them more sleek and modern. Sometimes this can get boring, though the designs or the garments themselves were interesting enough without needing superfluous colour and pattern. It was a very comprehensive collection that communicated ideas clearly.
Shop Whiz Limited here