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Early Highlights From Japan Fashion Week

Noteworthy developments include a special runway appearance by Paul Smith and an eclectic range of collections.

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TOKYO — This city’s fashion week is only a few days into its extended six-and-half-day run and there are already plenty of noteworthy developments, including a special runway appearance by Paul Smith, a show staged on a Thirties-era sailing ship and an eclectic range of collections, from sexy cabaret fare to textured knits.

This story first appeared in the October 19, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Here are some of the highlights of the week so far:

• Smith opened fashion week with a Sunday show of his spring collection as a tribute to his largest market after the devastating March 11 earthquake. The finale saw the designer walking the runway in a white shirt with the phrase “I love Japan” printed on the back, surrounded by models in rainbow-colored shirts. “Through war and tragedy, what we must do is remember friendship, conversation, touch, heart, love….We should reassess everyday things,” he said.

• Tokyo fashion week’s new sponsor Mercedes-Benz is ever-present this season with its cars and signage at every turn in and around the official venue of Tokyo Midtown. The carmaker also called on four young designers from the Vantan Design Institute to create clothing inspired by the company’s newly released C-Class Coupe. On Monday, models dressed in the mini-collections paraded in front of the car at an event at the Mercedes-Benz showroom, which is also serving as a venue for other shows and presentations throughout the week.

• Theatre Products designers Akira Takeuchi and Tayuka Nakanishi took over a Thirties-era sailing ship docked in Yokohama and staged a trio of vignettes featuring child ballerinas, a brass band and pirouetting models. The chic pants suits with peaked lapels and elegant column dresses had an appropriately retro flavor.

• In keeping with past seasons, Matohu designers Hiroyuki Horihata and Makiko Sekiguchi provided another modern and fresh take on the kimono. Stripes and delicate patterns resembling flower petals complemented a seasonally appropriate palette of sage, slate blue, lemon and sea foam green.

• Former Y’s Red Label designer Michiko Suzuki staged her spring fashion show for her line, which bears the name Nocturne #22 In C Sharp Minor, Op. Posth. Accompanied by live, hymn-like piano music, models were decked out in loose, asymmetric pieces that were a nod to the designer’s roots with Yohji Yamamoto, who himself sat second row at the show.

• For his debut show, Yasutoshi Ezumi created a series of long and flowing knit vests, cardigans and layered skirts in black, beige and slate blue silk. The collection was sleek and sophisticated, with clean lines and simple shapes.

• Motonari Ono employed a cabaret-style stage, from which models walked the runway in his lingerie-inspired designs. True to his signature style, the collection had no shortage of feminine details like lace and ruffles. There was a slight flapper feel with loose, body skimming dresses trimmed with fringe and lace or tulle overlays.

• Nozomi Ishiguro said he was reading newspaper articles before drifting off to sleep one night and proceeded to dream about a coup d’etat. The next day he saw some kids making cream puffs. That peculiar sequence of events inspired his lineup of long transparent, gauzy dresses worn over fishnet tights, shimmery fabric worked into puffy tutu-like skirts and motorcycle jackets festooned with a myriad of zippers.

• G.V.G.V., whose designer goes by the name Mug, took a playful romp through the Fifties, replete with cat-eye glasses and platform saddle shoes. There were slender skirts, high-waisted pants and peplum blouses in a palette of peach, lilac and pale green, while the occasional leopard print provided a dose of edginess. Striking botanical patterns were worked into everything from cigarette pants to bikinis and flirty dresses.

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