Junya Watanabe Man at Paris Fashion Week Men’s S/S 2019
Mood board: Watanabe’s clothes have no pomp, no obvious political agenda, and (for this season) no bold logos. He delivers a wardrobe of practicality and technical know-how. For S/S 2019, it consists of multi-pocketed gilets, cargo pants and light windbreakers – the functionality of the garments are pulled into focus. Pockets are exaggerated just so and small bags engineered to fit around the body. Military uniforms are always at the core of his men’s collections. Contemporary menswear does tend to be a battlefield. Radicals such as Helmut Lang and Martin Margiela favoured utilitarian, army detailing at the height of the 1990s – their standardised cuts and efficiency the antidote to the previous, flashier decade. As streetwear, couture detailing and activewear collide, the menswear shows are an amalgam of recalibrated classics.
Finishing touches: At the top of the catwalk, Watanabe had installed a giant green army tent – even the invitation was in a warm olive green. Military drums and Barry Gray’s score for Thunderbirds spoke of childhood innocence and obsessing over heroes. Military clothes are archetypal – they have a sober pragmatism. Largely un-gendered, unremarkable too, they are the opposite of peacocking. Dries Van Noten uses army fatigues and coveralls as a canvas for jazzy, optic prints from the 1970s; Andrea Rosso – the designer behind MYAR – repurposes surplus garments giving them new life. Watanabe translates these codes into an urban context with a flourish of whimsy. Take the repeat apple print by London-based illustrator Tracey English used on shirting and t-shirts.
Team work: New for S/S 2019 is a collaboration with Ark Air – the RTW arm of Arktis, an English company who have made military uniforms since 1985. Founded by two ex-Royal Marines, the Devon-based factory provides camouflage garments and military-grade smocks superior to standard-issue uniforms. Vests, field jackets and shorts in pinstripe and classic windowpane check become a new technical suit. Classic stripe shirts are treated like sports jackets. Pieces made with Levi’s, Heinrich Dinkelacker, New Balance and Trickers also appear, as do authentic sailor hats made in French Brittany by Béton Ciré.§