Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
PARIS–Very often, we expect seasoned conceptual and intellectual fashion designers to deliver puzzling shows. Ones bring us to exhilaration about the possibilities of fashion as art and as an influencer in broader culture.
Early on Saturday morning, we experienced such a show. With a break of sun from the previous evening’s downpour, a crowd gathered at the coffee shop adjacent to the Dries van Noten store for a first dose of coffee and croissant, before proceeding next door to the Junya Watanabe show in the small salon of the Beaux-Arts.
Known for his design innovation and extensive use of new fabrics, Mr. Watanabe opened the show with a simple elbow sleeve double-breasted belted coat with stripes falling from the sides, and small striped short pants. There was also a long striped dress, worn with shorter pants. And trench coats, like one in sheer nylon, came in all possible permutations and proportions. These formed the basic thrust of a sea side collection.
The clothes Mr. Watanabe showed were perhaps his most commercial in a few seasons. His skill is in taking a generic garment and–with a touch of humor–draping the garment to different proportions. This time, he worked mainly in cotton rather than technical materials.
A long asymmetrical dress had an uneven stripe pattern, forming an optical illusion; a tank dress with a sheer chiffon bottom had double overlapping collars; the large collar cotton sailor shirt showed Mr. Watanabe’s trademark playfulness. Another outstanding look was the sleeveless sailor shirt with a zig zag stripe sheer nylon overlay and navy pants. As was a khaki linen flare trench and striped pants.
White sheer veils covered the models’ faces. Their heads were topped with colored wigs parted to the side in orange, yellow or red, some worn under hats. Under the sheer veil, the models were biting onto some kind of dental grasp, although it was difficult to discern its function or purpose. It had an effect of making these models looked doll-like. That was perhaps the designer’s connection to Japanese street fashion.