One of the most promising young designers in Japan at the moment, Akiko Aoki believes that “fashion is a posture, a performance and a living act.” For her first Tokyo Fashion Week show in five years, she opened with a pair of ankle-length dresses and eye-obscuring veils. Evoking nuns’ habits or something out of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” they seemed to signal a collection that is about as conservative as you can get. But as is often the case with Aoki’s designs, things are not always as they may seem.
While the subsequent frocks offered plenty of coverage from the front, the backs revealed sexy cutouts and hems that hit at the very upper thigh. The designer deconstructed trenchcoats so that the sleeves dangled from the waist to the hips, and pockets landed right at the bra line. A denim dress had voluminous sleeves, lacing over the shoulders and a belt around the torso at the upper arms, giving it a straight-jacket effect.
In addition to menswear-inspired suiting and shirting fabrics, Aoki mixed in lace, faux shearling, jersey and a shiny, black plastic-like material. Combined with sky-high platforms, the innovative silhouettes formed an edgy collection that will be a welcome addition to the streets of Tokyo and beyond.