Junya Watanabe Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear Collection
From Tokyo, Junya Watanabe has treated the internet with golden drapes, vaporous fabrics, disrupted stitching, and print collaborations with contemporary Japanese, Chinese, Nepalese and Thai artists in Asia and around the world. He called it “Eas-miniscence,” his term coined for his reminiscences of pre-pandemic travel. Browsing through a collection of photojournalism that Jamie Hawkesworth, the British photographer captured in 2019 in Bhutan, India and Kashmir, Watanabe “became nostalgic for Asia” and “the pure heart of the people” that he saw there. .
One of the positive effects of working from home has been a greater appreciation for everything and everyone who is close to us. Watanabe’s collection seemed to spring from his emotional response to this. While totally true to the inimitable Modernist-Romantic street style that the West has embraced for so long, it was a subtle refocus of Watanabe’s perspective on the awareness of the cross-cultural arts and traditions that belong to Asia in camaraderie with like-minded people. that work the same way.
It was all there to read in the intersections of its delicately elegant pleats, the layers of shimmering asymmetrical drapes, the brocades and fragments of biker jackets, kilts and bespoke men’s jackets. First up: a white dress printed with a skull motif, half punk, half Chinese porcelain, by Chinese artist Jacky Tsai, based in London. Watanabe also had Japanese heroes working with him: black-on-flesh-colored patterns in semi-translucent dresses almost as thin as second skins were by tattoo artist Nissaco, renowned for his geometric work. A dress with a psychedelic illustration of goldfish and stylized female heads is from a 1975 animation by Keiichi Tanaami, the legendary pop artist who has been working on her hallucinatory visions since the 1960s.
A powerful hand-drawn black calligraphy by Wang Dongling, director of the Center for the Study of Modern Calligraphy at the National Academy of Arts of China, paraded a Tang Dynasty poem on white robes. Ang Tsherin Sherpa, a California-based Tibetan artist, creator of modern artwork based on traditional Tibetan thangka iconography, collaborated on orange-blue-green grid patterns sliding sideways across a draped dress. A bright orange blouse adorned with flowers and a painted dragon is a Thai fantasy created for Watanabe by Bangkok illustrator Phannapast Taychamaythakool.
It is evident how much mutual respect Watanabe enjoys with his creative peers who explore all traditions and freewheeling craftsmanship, sometimes in surreal parallel. In the end, did his entire series of fantastically textured metallic pieces relate to Jamie Hawkesworth’s photographs of golden female deities in the temple? Not literally. Maybe not at all. But, even with the limitations of digital imaging, it all long looked like Junya Watanabe’s most inspired collection.