Merino wool highlights a return to nature at Tokyo Fashion WeekPrint


Hideaki Sakaguchi layered sturdy masculine outerwear for The Dress&Co.

For the new season, the authenticity of wool clearly made it very appealing to designers who showed it, more often than not, in “authentic” styles: folksy, homespun, evocative of the frontier clothing of an idealised American West. And that makes perfect sense: after the disaster, Japan is a country in transition, on the road to somewhere unknown, just like those early pioneers in their covered wagons.

It was interesting to see how Hiroyoku Horihata and Makkiko Sekiguchi combined Japanese and American tradition in their collection for Matohu. Soft wool layers in prettily pale colours seemed equally influenced by kimonos and prairie blanket wraps. At Everlasting Sprout, Keiichi Muramatsu cocooned his models in fuzzy sweater dresses over knit leggings. Another model sported a large, almost tribal “breastplate” of nubbly wool, a clever way to invoke the protective reassurance that traditions (and wool represents nothing if not honorable tradition) can offer in uncertain times. Johan Ku’s similarly, surreally exaggerated cableknits told a similar story in a more sophisticated way. 

For The Dress&Co., Hideaki Sakaguchi layered sturdy masculine outerwear – blazers, peacoats, argyles, cabled cardigans – over femininely sheer dresses, again suggestive of a sort of pioneer pragmatism. This hybrid of masculine and feminine has always been one of the provocative, challenging elements that guaranteed Japan’s place in the forefront of the fashion avant-garde.

Perhaps the sober mood tempered extreme expression this season, but those elements were still to be found, in, for example, Masanori Morikawa’s collection for Christian Dada, where one male model wore a cableknit double-breasted jacket paired with matching skirt. Atsushi Nakashima matched a jacket patchworked from grey flannel to a black chiffon skirt. A Degree Fahrenheit’s Yu Amatsu used the artful cutting that has always been another characteristic of Japanese fashion to create his voluminous camel cape dress. 

Appropriately, it was White Mountaineering, which brought together the themes of the season. There was something nostalgic about Yosuke Aizawa’s menswear, but he showed his clothes on bag-bearing models who were clearly going places (his runway was exactly that, designed to look like somewhere planes take off). The past lifting off into a brighter future – that says it all, really. 

Tim Blanks

Tim Blanks has been covering fashion around the world since 1985, formerly for the globally syndicated television show Fashion File, now as editor-at-large for Style.com

He writes regularly for a number of international magazines and newspapers including Vogue and GQ, The Independent, Another, Fantastic Man and Interview.

Blanks was one of the guest curators on 'Sample', Phaidon's global overview of new fashion. He also contributed to Steidl's monograph on Michael Roberts; the book marking the 20th anniversary of Dolce&Gabbana’s menswear; the catalogue for Alexander McQueen’s exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum; and Walter van Beirendonck’s new monograph.