Establishing one of the world’s most prestigious fashion labels, and redefining standards of high fashion and luxury in the process would be enough of a legacy for most people, but not for Rei Kawakubo. The Comme Des Garcons founder/designer also took on a protégé, Junya Watanabe, who would become one of the elite names in global fashion in his own right. Watanabe steadily rose through the Comme Des Garcons ranks before establishing his own offshoot CDG label in 1993. Like his mentor, Junya Watanabe is renowned for his avant garde expressions of technical excellence, innovative tailoring and forward thinking sensibility. The incorporation of cutting-edge, synthetic textiles into complex and distinctive designs is a particular hallmark of Watanabe’s output.
The Spring/Summer Junya Watanabe menswear collection drew on childhood notions of toy soldiers and “playing” at war, to craft a vision that combined as close to the real thing as possible military and utilitarian essentials with bright, school supply primary color infused, basics. After giving this youthful sensibility free reign during the buoyant, sunshine filled seasons, it’s fitting that the onset of autumn/winter sets aside carefree idyll and idleness, for a sobering return to the realities of everyday, adult life.
Described as “silver swagger” by the designer himself, the Autumn/Winter 2019 collection turns the contemporary obsession with “dad” style on its head. Rather than self-appointed arbiters of cool deigning to appropriate the unhip, Junya Watanabe operates with the assumption that the timeless, enduring style of classic menswear possesses an inherent coolness and self confidence that is lacking in the transient, hashtag trends.
The key materials and pieces: tweed, wool, denim, leather, blazers, cardigans, jeans, tees, button downs, read like a greatest hits of menswear, but naturally, in the hands of Junya Watanabe, each piece takes on a life all its own, as a vintage, lived in feeling is elevated to new heights by Watanabe’s artful craftsmanship.