Thanks to a certain crew of intellectual, streetwise contemporary designers — Demna Gvasalia, Virgil Abloh, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Shayne Oliver, et al. — the runways as of late have taken a turn toward the realistic: Much of the clothing presented over the past few seasons has been clued into youth culture, with collections focused on what modern men and women actually want to wear. For some, this means hoodies and vintage denim (Vetements), graphic T-shirts (Rubchinskiy, Supreme, Off-White), dramatically proportioned athleisure (Fenty Puma by Rihanna) or souped-up sneakers (Kanye West for Adidas), and while these everyday staples are practical for the majority of consumers, true fashion obsessives worry that these commercial-leaning pieces will suck the artistry and creativity out of the industry altogether.
That's where visionaries like Japanese designer Junya Watanabe, whose conceptual and highly technical collections stand out in a league of their own each season, come in. For spring, Watanabe put his singular spin on the streetwear "thing" that's happening right now (not uncharted territory for him, as he's collaborated with the likes of Converse, Levi's and Carhartt, as well as tackled several global subcultures in past collections), giving T-shirts, jeans, grungy floral dresses, sweatpants and more the avant-garde treatment. Atop the more basic pieces, he layered giant sheer coats with spikes, origami-like folds and drapes to add both volume and toughness.
The beauty look was similarly aggressive, with models wearing short wigs in colors that ranged from red to blue to pink. The shimmering makeup and dark eyeliner was running down the models' faces as if they'd spent their entire nights partying at Berghain. (Watanabe was reportedly inspired by a trip to Berlin this season.)
Yes, streetwear may be sellable, simple and universally sensible, but it sure as hell doesn't have to be boring. Check out Watanabe's full spring 2017 collection in the gallery below.