Junya Watanabe doesn’t do trends. This season, the designer didn’t do a theme, either. “He simply wanted to create strong garments by maximizing his techniques to their fullest,” his team said in a typically terse e-mail.
Watanabe is known for recontextualizing wardrobe classics with a surgical eye for detail. His subject this time around was the trenchcoat, which he dissected and reassembled into dresses, coats, jackets, skirts and pants, grounding his formal variations with neon Hi-Tec sneakers and flashy athletic gear.
Designers from John Galliano to Jonathan Anderson have offered their reinventions of the classic “Mac,” but few as diligently and obsessively as Watanabe, who pinned the fabric into a loosely sculpted skirt, worn with a neon pink top and gobstopper pearls, or a Fifties-style halter dress that hung limply off the chest.
Sometimes, the transformation took a barely perceptible form, as with the slightly oversize coat with a glossy technical sheen. Or the finished garment might cross into an entirely different register, which was the case with a floor-sweeping lace gown gathered around the hip with multiple belt loops.
As Watanabe toggled between street and couture, wardrobes and eras collided. His closing look, a redingote-style coat worn with fluo sneakers and leggings featuring graffiti-style artwork by Brazilian duo Bicicleta Sem Freio, summed up the collection’s quirky grace.