Junya Watanabe RTW Fall 2023
Five models stormed down a narrow, elevated runway installed at the Oratoire du Louvre, a Protestant church, and then came to a dead stop, evenly spaced. Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” blared as the audience took in their black, hooded utility coats rigged out with dangling straps, carabiners, protective padding and other technical paraphernalia.
It was a couture version of Junya Watanabe’s fall menswear collection, which riffed on protective gear for BMX and motocross. It rocked.
Here the Japanese designer collaged various elements of those extreme sports — and what looked like a serious haul of deadstock leather duffel bags — to create overalls, pinafores, tunics and a bounty of statement coats.
It’s been an outerwear-centric fashion season and Watanabe’s straddled rugged and pretty adroitly, for he added godets, ruffles, bits of skater skirt and lantern sleeves to anoraks, trenchcoats and parkas crawling with gewgaws.
What was worn underneath — glossy leggings, knife-pleated skirts or hairy pants, the offbeat item of fall 2023 — seemed superfluous.
In brief press notes distributed after the show, Watanabe said the Led Zeppelin song drove him to create the show. “It is an homage to the lyrics and the feeling of desert travel,” he said.
The designer also reprised from the men’s show a collaboration with Innerraum, a Berlin maker of accessories incorporating elements of protective gear, adding up to something alien and sci-fi. All the “Dune”-worthy face masks and a handbag were the fruit of that tie-up for the women’s show.
In any case, takers for this dystopian outerwear should easily spot them at the restaurant coat check, and no doubt send the street-style photographers into overdrive next season.