Tailoring is returning, with a vengeance, to women's wardrobes for Autumn/Winter 2012. It never went away really, of course, but that's the thing journalists say when we see an unabashed exploration of the suit jacket appearing simultaneously on catwalks across all four fashion capitals, especially when those suit jackets don't vary too much from what women will wear in everyday life.
Junya Watanabe made them the strong opening statement of his latest offering, and coming after a pair of collections that experimented with the aesthetic possibilities of the biker jacket - that symbol of teenage rebellion - it felt like this was about returning to tradition. The opening knee-length, single breasted coat was a hint at those to follow, as Watanabe proffered a series of perfectly pitched, pinched-waisted and patch-pocketed blazers, worn over slender men's trousers, sometime deconstructed into a skirt-like offering layered over more trousers. Watanabe offered more of his twists on the ultra-traditional trench-coat, this time worn like a cape over the shoulders with sleeves hanging. And lest all that seem too manly, there were floral-print and devore velvet and chiffon tea-dresses thrown in also, draped about the body with an admirable delicacy of hand.
This wasn't a Watanabe show with a strong, central narrative - such as, for example, his perfection of the Perfecto this time last year. But one could argue that also prevented it from becoming single-note. The suit was the lynchpin, but Watanabe has enough sense about him to be able to untangle what he wants to say aesthetically from what women want to wear practically, and understand that the very best fashion collections are able to offer both, in tandem, without one negating the other. There was a message of tradition versus subversion here - after all, wasn't the most traditional of subversions the simple act of a woman wearing a man's suit? But the most subversive thing about Watanabe's show was how damn wearable, and loveable, everything was.