Junya Watanabe: Just call him puff daddy. This season, Junya Watanabe earned the title with a collection that explored the bulging outer limits of that urban staple — the sleek ski parka. Other designers may have done the parka-with-a-ballgown thing before, but Watanabe opened his show with the most extreme interpretation to date: a silky black quilted vest inflated to the point of bursting over a matching duvet-cum-ball skirt, knotted behind in a bustle. That’s one take on keeping cozy without donning a fur. But it’s not for everyone, and especially not for one editor who described the look as “inflatable Hefty bag.”

Watanabe’s puffy wear got more whimsical as he went along, however, punched up with bright tartans and smart tweeds. But what would a renovated parka be without that other urban staple, a baggy pair of low-riding jeans? While Watanabe has gone the denim route before, most memorably with his country-and-western romance a few seasons back, this time he explored the street end of the spectrum. And the look was like a Gap ad gone mad. A sculpted green tweed parka topped a tutti-frutti striped sweater and a pair of jeans riding lower than those worn by your average seventh grade hip-hop fan. A crocheted sweater in hot pink folded down around the body like a webby cocoon, while a fleet of trusty jeans were recast as swirling tiered ruffled skirts.

As usual, Watanabe showed off his ingenious technique. But here it was merely cute, never delivering the joyful jolt his best collections can deliver.



Vivienne Westwood: With a retrospective exhibition of her work set to open April 1 at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, designer Vivienne Westwood is about to get a massive reassessment. Granted, Westwood has recently had a second coming of sorts, gaining credence with fashionistas who appreciate her disheveled cool look. But the jury is out on whether Westwood, for all of her past fashion glories, remains relevant to a wider public today. She made her case with a wily collection for fall that played with a bondage theme. Straps bound everything from jackets to dresses while models balanced on platform shoes of fetishistic proportions. Sweaters were decorated with a weird knit attachment to the bust, while tweed suits illustrated Westwood’s affinity for English style.

Marithé & François Girbaud: Comfort is a concept that has always appealed to Marithé and François Girbaud. And their collection for fall showed they haven’t strayed from their time-tested modus operandi. Leather was a major theme, with a plethora of worn-in military-style jackets with ruching and embroidered details. Silhouettes twisted around the body in a denim miniskirt with an oversized utility pocket and a patchwork asymmetric dress with zippers. Meanwhile, jeans dresses were distressed with a vintage feel and silky bustier numbers had an antique charm. The Girbauds have charted out — and remain— in fashion territory where they feel at ease.

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