A pixelised monochrome print adorning a folded square invitation gave an indication to one (or possibly two) of Junya Watanabe's lines of thought for Spring/Summer. Although his audience had to wait a short while for the prints and squares to appear in a collection that was book-ended by sharp suiting. Watanabe has built a firm reputation for producing cleverly cut women's suits with carefully considered design details. This season, he fused men's and women's styles, opening with high-shine blue grey, silver and gunmetal fabrics and closing with black, on white-faced girls whose heads were bound in fabric. Blazers incorporated an hourglass silhouette or were pulled together with a gentleman's chain fastening; trousers were slim line worn with flat, lace-up shoes. Watanabe certainly understands the value in a shortened sleeve (bracelet length) and hemlines that graze the ankle-line - an approach his former mentor Rei Kawakubo has been promoting throughout her career. He also understands that whilst his women doesn't want overtly sexy, nor does she crave full-on masculinity. Less is certainly more. Here, his details were supremely subtle - a suited model turning to reveal a keyhole back. Shirts were quickly introduced - a variety of black and white options with distinctly feminine touches. Fluid, softer shapes, front seams that mimicked the female form, and longer lengths which occasionally meant they could be worn as dresses with thick jersey leggings. Fabric puckered at the breast or around the neckline and collars were rounded. Watanabe then launched into black and white fabric combinations -small and large dogtooth checks and checkerboard patchwork- and an array of striking prints including circle and squares, one reminiscent of DNA and hand-drawn squares. The patchwork checks -cotton or jersey, sometimes black PVC- seemed to be a progression of his patchwork football-like bags created for Autumn/Winter '09. This section saw the introduction of dresses including mini shifts, a paneled, four-tier design with soft draping, ruffle and asymmetric hems. Cohesive, rigorous and modern, Watanabe offered a collection that will no doubt enrich his relationships with the press, buyers and that Watanabe woman.
Watanabe has built a firm reputation for producing cleverly cut women's suits with carefully considered design details.