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Japan Fashion Week Bounces Back, Gets Political: "It's Time to Change," Says Designer Hiroko Itoh

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Racked's Tokyo correspondent Misha Janette recaps Japan Fashion Week

A look from the fall-winter 2011-2012 GVGV collection

Most Japanese brands have been forced under the radar this season, due to the March 11 earthquake that brought devastation to the Northeast, and unleashed radiation fears and power cuts on Tokyo. Fashion shows were immediately canceled, and some of Tokyo’s top brands immediately went to work on creating high-quality lookbooks instead. Ladies wear brand GVGV and menswear brand Phenomenon are two of the hottest labels today and their catalogues present eclectic viewpoints of classic and punk aesthetics run through the meat grinder. It is unfortunate as a show would have electrified the season.

Shida Tatsuya, a promising young designer who works with imitation fur and voluminous shapes, was scheduled to show at one of Tokyo’s largest halls. He was waiting for models to show up for fittings when the quake struck. “You kind of expected everything to settle down after a few days, but it just got worse?then reality set in,” he said. Instead, he hired one of the top foreign models—one of the few who stayed behind—and shot an intricate look book instead.

While the official Japan Fashion Week scheduled for March 18-25 was cancelled, about a dozen fashion shows were rescheduled, at the behest of the designers, throughout April. Luckily for us, they tended to be the most unique and “Tokyo-representative” of the bunch, including Nozomi Ishiguro with his signature cacophony of volume, color and experimental knits, and Macaronic’s DIY-style of mixed-media clothing that targets an eclectic street niche.

The shows that did go on, amazingly, went without any hitches. Although there was a large aftershock that jolted Tokyo a mere 90 minutes before Christian Dada was to present their first show ever, a quick call to my assistant backstage provided relief, “Everything is fine, no one is afraid.” And the ornamental-punk show went on, accessorized with vicious stick-cage head pieces and painted-on Yakuza tattoos.

Hisui designer Hiroko Itoh used her show as a soapbox to present her views opposing nuclear energy with a huge circular finale dress printed with a map of Japan marked with all of the country’s nuclear plants. She is known for creating playful clothes that can often be worn in many different ways, but she wasn’t playing when she expressed her adamant anti-nuclear views to the press afterwards. “It’s time to change,” she asserted.

Finally, Somarta gave an elegant presentation of intricately beaded tunics and wire-hem skirts worn over their signature seamless lace bodysuits. Everyone’s attention was focused on their feet however, as Lady Gaga’s shoe designer Noritaka Tatehana, revealed his newest heelless creations here that were created with laser-cut leather in silver and pearl colors.
· Japan Fashion Week [Official Site]
· Tokyo Fashion Diaries [Official Site]