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1/19 — Junya Watanabe



The Takeaway: Paris Goes Punk [PFW]

Whether it was David Koma’s extra-sharp shoulders at Mugler or Glenn Martens’ rap-king opulence at Y/Project, the ’80s slayed at almost every show this PFW. From the front lines of Paris Fashion Week, we saw a treasure trove of new looks for the new seasonnone more prevalent than the return of punk. (Even Rihanna recently channeled her inner punk for the cover of Paper Magazine’s March 2017 “Break the Rules” issue—spiked green hair and all).

But Bad Girl Riri wasn’t the extent of this season’s infatuation with the undeniable edge of the mid-’80s grunge-punk movement; in Paris, we had the original Queen of Punk, Vivienne Westwood herself. 

The 75-year-old designer morphed into model for the fall-winter show of her label (now under the creative direction of her husband, Andreas Kronthaler) and slowly strutted the latest looks—first, a super-sized striped bomber jacket and matching asymmetrical skirt, and then, a black silk dress with gold scribbling for her second turn. (A true legend on the prowl.)

Though there were several theatrical updates to Westwood’s past classics and deconstructions, including T-shirts doodled with breasts and penises, the collection fell short of including her iconic plaids and knits; that job was left for Junya Watanabe, whose most recent lineup in Paris pilfered his long-lasting obsession for punk and anarchist aesthetics.

Dressed in electric yellow and red tartans, Watanabe’s fall punks appeared on the runway as a patchwork of leather, sequins, leopard prints, and a slew of curtain brocades—a series of floral and jacquard upholsteries reminiscent of the London flea market finds with which he built his first collection in 1993.

Back in 2017, his fall-winter collection was a collage of fishnet stockings, pleated kilts, and countless reasons why we’re perfectly fine with Junya Watanabe delivering his second punk-inspired outing two seasons in a row. He’s undoubtedly a pro at making bold punk references—even in the smallest details—just like another Japanese designer, Chitose Abe. (She and her label Sacai returned to the French runway with a reinvigorated street-edge vibe, complete with extremely subtle punk-inspired zippered panels.)

It’s not altogether clear if it’s nostalgia for years long passed that’s inspired this season’s designers to revisit the punk era, but the theory certainly proved true for Masha Ma. Thinking back to her days living in London and working for Alexander McQueen, she sent out a collection (“Collection P”) infused with punk influences. 

Like Watanabe, Masha Ma did the tartan skirt and fishnets combo, complete with distressed platform boots for the full-on club-kid package. She also introduced her new takes on her signature tailoring and deconstructed elements via our favorite looks—the pleated tartan suits that appeared not very punk at first, but the straps and body harnesses took care of the rest.

Overall, this season seemed to celebrate the variations on what we deem “punk,” from Westwood’s signature deconstruction to Masha Ma’s nostalgic club kids. And, not surprisingly, one age-old punk adage proved once again true: tartan contrasts and fishnets are a no-fail way to take this trend from off the runway and into our closets, stat. 

Images via Vogue Runway

Stay tuned to Milk for more sartorial trend analysis.

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