Olympia Le Tan had the idea of doing a Japan-themed collection for quite some time, but only when her beloved Hotel Okura, a Tokyo landmark since 1962, closed for demolition earlier this year, she made it a reality.
Viewing the circumstances, which she said left her “devastated,” her spring effort was less over-the-top and flamboyant than usual. With remarkable attention to detail, the designer let her prints and fabrics do the talking.
The hotel’s elevator doors reemerged from the ashes on a sequined trompe l’oeil kimono, while the graphic pattern of the carpets adorned short-sleeve retro shirts with pointy collars and high-waisted, faux-jacquard skirts. And don’t forget the Okura pj’s: “I had once lost mine, so they lent me some of theirs. I captured them here, except they are beaded and in silk-satin — not in polyester,” the designer said.
The Japanese theme went beyond the hotel. With Nobuyoshi Araki’s permission, she reprinted the photographer’s Polaroids as illustrations on garments or used them as erotic embroideries on her book clutches, which this time opened backwards (Japanese style). Meanwhile, the color red, an homage to film director Yasujiro Ozu, was splattered on cheeky poplin shirts in the shape of his signature red kettle, through to the models’ glaring, lipstick-red pantyhose, as they strutted down the runway against the murky neon lights of “Hotel Olympia,” a Japanese rendition of Nat “King” Cole’s classic “L-O-V-E” playing in the background.
It was a spirited show thanks to Le Tan’s whimsical and inventive vocabulary.