Junya Watanabe had a hard time this morning. As the first show on the Paris Fashion Week schedule - bright and early at 10am - he faced an audience filled with Europeans and (sob) former Europeans, us the British press, reeling at and scared by the announcement that the UK had voted for Brexit. The fashion community, and the broader creative and artistic world, has long existed in a bubble - lucky to be filled with, for the most part, liberal, tolerant, open-minded individuals. Today’s result hammered home how small we are - how little our voices matter in the great scheme of things. How few share our ideas. It’s a hard time to sit and look at very expensive clothes and believe they have any genuine meaning or impact. We can hope to convince others to share our views, our optimism and our excitement but we probably won’t do it by continuing to speak only to those who already agree with us. Now is the time to focus on education and love, not exclusivity and loftiness.
These thoughts were on many minds as Watanabe’s models appeared. He’s been inspired by retro gangsters for S/S 17 - by films such as Emir Kusturica’s Black Cat, White Cat from 1998. This meant we were faced by a series of aggressive looking white models complete with real and drawn on tattoos, clad in suiting, leathers and other staples of a traditional masculine wardrobe. As one UK journalist put it, ‘They looked like they kind of guys who would beat me up.’ Bad timing - at a time when violent, narrow minded and aggressive thought seeps throughout formerly ‘liberal’ countries, this celebration of old school masculinity and bravado felt deflating. But Watanabe couldn’t have known the mood of the day when he designed it. So what of the clothes? Well those tattoo-print t-shirts will have a wide commercial appeal. As will the printed shirts and tailored jackets. We were informed that Watanabe has taken a ‘humorous’ approach to this theme - ‘very light.’ Sadly, the mood is not right to laugh with him.