The three most outlandish shows at Tokyo Fashion Week

Designers mine Harajuku street style, Lolita fashion, the 1970s and alien films for looks that defy categorisation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 October, 2016, 12:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 October, 2016, 5:50pm

The Marc Jacobs of Japan, singing cats and models cloaked in armour: J-pop and science fiction transformed Tokyo Fashion Week spring-summer 2017 into a style fest unlike any other.

In a world where fashion mines entertainment like never before, Japan’s established and breakthrough labels pounced on musical hook-ups, street culture and animation to drive interest.

These were the most outlandish shows that closed the week.

Mikio Sakabe got the biggest applause of the week for his show in Miyashita Park, a last hurrah before it closes for renovations ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

His seven-inch platform shoes were the stars. Laced up to the ankle with thick ribbon, they were similar to those already seen on the New York catwalk at Marc Jacobs this year, though Sakabe said he had been working on them before the master of American high fashion set his loose.

As with Jacobs, the look crafted an impossibly long silhouette that either drowned the models in oversized suiting or flashed legs for miles in the tiniest of skirts or belted shorts that hung below the backside, the wearers’ blushes saved by striped shirts.

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In a nod to Japan’s Lolita fashion subculture, Harajuku street style and kawaii – meaning cute, loveable and childish – there were girly dresses embellished with feathers, a black plastic and metallic pleated skirt, and a beige culotte suit covered in bunny rabbits thrown in for good measure.

The label, known for avant-garde fashion, is beloved by Japanese pop stars and celebrating its 10th birthday.

Sakabe says he wanted to mix 1970s, ’80s and ’90s influences and was motivated to find a new silhouette given that Japanese designers normally focus on texture. “I wanted to make something new,” he says.

Up-and-coming designer Yukihiro Teshima could win cheesiest show of the year for brand Yukihero Pro-Wrestling.

Held in a nightclub, the usual 10-minute show was ditched in favour of a 40-minute music bonanza starring girl band Yumemiru Adolescence, Western models dressed Andy Warhol-style and Japanese actresses.

It was a riot of colour, humour and kitsch – with a hefty side order of cheese as the singers bopped around in cat ears, playsuits covered in multicoloured wool and Campbell’s Soup ruffles.

His models strode out in ’50s yellow, pink and orange-rinse wigs, and overpainted matching lipstick pouts.

They wore a monkey motif called Monchhichi, popular in the ’70s, revived with Hello Kitty in the ’90s and subsequently exported to Britain as “Chicaboo”.

There were also peeled banana cutouts pinned to jeans. So what was the message from the man who designs for film, pop groups and wrestlers?

“I want to tell people that having fun is important,” Teshima says.

Keiichiro Yuri, a former 3D graphic designer best known for creating bags, whose label Keiichirosense made its fashion week debut only last season, was perhaps the oddest of all.

The show started with the sound of the swelling sea and closed with Prince track Gold as the designer strutted around in futuristic platforms and tucked two plastic dolls into his waistband.

There were enormous wide-brimmed Little Bo Peep hats, plastic sci-fi style armour and shell-like sheaths worn over metallic skirts straight from a space-age or alien film.

There were incredible free-standing blouses and capes, shaped like discs and zipped up like cushion covers that encased the upper body. Silver lace-up arm warmers and Rapunzel-style plaited hair, complete with silver extensions, finished off the look.

“This is my way of expressing cool Japan,” the designer says. “The youth create our future. I think the Harajuku look is absolutely right. I want to tell them it is you guys who make the next age.”