It seems Kawaii fashion may have gone to the dark side.
One of the most prominent members of the movement, Mikio Sakabe, has released a lookbook for his fall/winter collection all in black and white, which is an interesting move, to say the least. Although Mikio’s fashions themselves are as bright, glittery, and as kitsch as you’d expect, this desaturated way of showing them (a collaboration with high-fashion Japanese magazine Commons&Sense) really forces us to to consider how “mode” fashion and it’s antithesis, “Kawaii” fashion is perceived…and how it can evolve.
Mikio Sakabe learned fashion design at the Royal Academy in Antwerp. So although it may seem like the frilly, uber-kawaii and idol-costume-ready designs would be done by an Otaku in his closet, Mikio is actually very calculating and purposeful in all of his collections, often using them to poke fun at our perceptions of what fashion really is. For example, he was the first one to put his women’s collection of sailor school unform-inspired collection on all men’s models, arguably single-handingly sparking the genderless fashion movement. He was also one of the first Tokyo Fashion Week designers to openly admit to being an Otaku at heart, and with pride (his atelier is in the “real” Otaku hub of Nakano, not Akihabara, showing that he is blue-blooded). Mikio also co-runs the small but lauded fashion school Coco no Gakko with Writtenaftewards designer Yoshikazu Yamagata, often launching the careers of other avantgarde, “otaku”, or fringe designers.
So for all of this tendency to stay on the outliers, it’s fascinating to see what happens when his clothes are given a stereotypical “Chanel” advertisement treatment.
…and in fact, it looks pretty great?!
Done up all glossy and chic, it’s harder to sparse where the Kawaii ends and the high-fashion starts. Or maybe it’s all one in the same?
And yet, when I went to the showroom to check out the clothing themselves, I found that they were as colorful, glittery and cute as one would expect from Mikio. There were bows abound, and one of the most prominent textiles was a metallic PVC in shiny Barbie pink. ..touche. Although I would personally prefer a monochrome collection myself, I was tickled to be forced to look at his clothes in a new light, and ponder my perception of it. Bravo, Mikio Sakabe, and keep on keepin’ on with your kawaii, boundary-pushing self. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!
MIKIO SAKABE fall/winter 2016-17 :
Misha Janette &