By  on February 27, 2008

Avant-garde design is alive and well and living in Paris. In fact, it's evolving, with new, darker colors, along with distinctive tailoring and patterns.

Junya Watanabe: In what qualified as a truly graceful mood swing, Junya Watanabe traded in spring's buoyant spirit for a sober take on the same sartorial principles: draping and, of course, asymmetry. It began with a shift in color, from candy-hued cottons to wool jerseys in heathered shades of gray, slate, navy blue and black that were stretched into long, languid silhouettes. Each look came serene and unfettered, aside from the draping, which ranged from a simple tuck or twist to grander gestures of complicated curves and winding seams. There were cardigan versions, fur-trimmed bib dresses and roomy cocoons that funneled into an elegant column skirt. Later on, he switched modes to tailored looks designed within the somber-slim parameters. Classic glen plaid and houndstooth were made avant on twisted blazers worn with floor-length stretch skirts. The look was almost entirely covered up, even restricting at times, as in capelike waistcoats that bound the arms to the body and slim skirts made into pants thanks to a crotch and cuffs just above the ankles. All those lanky shapes and brooding colors, topped with face-masking stretch turbans, made for a dramatic melancholy — a beautiful one. And if it got repetitive, save for the welcome burst of color in a few pretty floral looks, that's just Watanabe working endless possibilities into a singular vision.

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