It’s been a while since Junya Watanabe let his street side out to play, the part of his aesthetic that makes collectors’ items out of patchwork jeans, perfecto jackets and trenches. For the past few seasons, he’s pursued extreme construction with sculptural contraptions — hats, bibs, “dresses” that cocoon the bod in accordion shapes and helixes that are remarkable but require a liberal definition of “wearable.” To that end, his spring collection was a crowd pleaser, a fantastic integration of two aesthetics designed to satisfy conceptual purists and those attracted to his more relatable work.
As stated in collection notes, “Watanabe-san wanted to present an enhanced vision of street style. For him, neither extreme construction nor streetwear stand alone stylistically — they are complementary, and when merged together, stronger.” He delivered on that position with a punk-driven look that owed a big debt to the edgy youth-music-art scene that’s integral to the fabric of Berlin. After a recent trip there, Watanabe enlisted two graffiti crews, 1UP and Berlin Kidz, to work on prints and details in the collection.
The first look out played like a David Bowie tribute, with a model in a choppy orange wig and silver paint on her eyebrows, wearing a spiky, sheer batwing cape over a illustrated T-shirt, black leather skirt that looked like it was fashioned from a jacket and shredded black jeans with holes lined in fishnet.
The constructed, geometric pieces were sheer, in black, nude and a few floral prints, worn as capes, aprons, shirts and dresses and harnesses over printed T-shirts; dresses and skirts made out of patchwork T-shirts; grungy but pretty floral dresses; studded jeans, and army green cargo shorts.
As deliberately gritty and tough as the look was, the punk stuff actually softened the aggressive spikes and folds of the geometric top layers, bringing them down from the lofty, purist concept without copping out. From the street, there were fabulous items — a denim jacket with leather sleeves, oversize army parkas, two trenches with graffiti art built to withstand any kind of trend cycle.
Buy now, wear forever.