“I think being responsible for how you source inspiration, and then how you execute it is really important,” Joseph Altuzarra explained of his pre-fall collection, which was inspired by the dichotomy between tradition and modernity within Japanese culture. He did so with thoughtful fashions that not only displayed the duality, but came to be through collaborations with traditional artisans Altuzarra was inspired by during a two-week summer trip to Japan. During his travels, the designer learned the history and various technical techniques of Japanese Shibori, which evolved into a full-on collaboration of unique, handmade garments for pre-fall with a studio in Nagoya.
“What’s really fascinating about Shibori, a centuries-old technique: It’s a manual-resist dyeing process and everything’s stitched together. One dress takes about three days to dye — stitch in a day, dye in a day, unstitch and dry in a day,” the designer explained of an orange, white and red Shibori skirt with high slit. For his smocked offerings (which the artisans had never dyed on before), Altuzarra’s approach had to be even more meticulous. His frocks were smocked first in Italy and finished with open sides, sent to Tokyo to be dyed and sent back to Italy to be completely finished. The results were intriguing and will be limited due to timing.
Elsewhere, traditional Japanese motifs — a floral woodblock print, taken from a 19th-century kimono, or checkered print — were seen through a lens of Tokyo’s glowing neon streets at night. Shirtdresses came with enticing, blurred prints while tailored options revealed pops of colored blooms on the lapels of a blazer or on a piece of a little black dress; a collaboration with Japanese contemporary artist Ichiro Tsutura was also featured within the collection. Tailoring, a continued focus for the brand, came in eco-wool derived from 100 percent recycled fiber in fluorescent orange and hot pink hues with cinched waists, strong shoulders and matching pants with sporty swagger. Speaking to sustainability, Altuzarra noted that his wide obi-inspired plastic belts were composed of a biodegradable polyurethane.
Altuzarra’s final note of inspiration referenced traditional Japanese bondage, which he transformed into ultra-refined eveningwear. The designer looked to traditional knotting, embroidering the rope bases with crystals and placing them onto his alluring dresses and suit jacket in real bondage configurations. “Just not as tight in real life,” Altuzarra cheekily quipped of the fetishistic accents.