In previous collections Anrealage's Kunihiko Morinaga played with reflections, light reactive fabrics and shadows. These themes provided the designer with strong visual inspirations and, for the A/W 2016 collection, Morinaga introduced another element along these lines.
Entitled "Noise", the collection featured designs in black-and-gray fabric patterns, at times calling to mind Chanel's thick tweeds, that reproduced the visual static from analog video and television.
The collection title was indeed a reference to the random dot pixel pattern of static displayed when no transmission signal is obtained by a receiver. The show was accompanied by a mix of fuzzy and disturbing static sounds that matched the mood.
What kind of tech-trick did the designer employ this time? Well, models wearing aerodynamic helmet-like headdresses walked inside a plastic box (representing a TV set?) and when they approached the walls, the 50 shades of grey jacquards and pixellated patterns of their garments flickered or changed displaying checkered or houndstooth motifs, flowers and polka dots.
The random pattern that appeared to be hiding in the clothes was created through visual cryptography and was developed by Morinaga in collaboration with computer programmer Toru Urakawa (the effect becomes clearer from around 6:30 in the YouTube video featured in this post).
Tailor-wise the collection featured a strong and rigid silhouette with emphasis on the shoulder area, almost to hint at boxy television sets. Ample and cocooning coats, pencil skirts, soft and thick cropped knits and fitted blazers were among the most wearable offers.
The designer at times applied a sort of waving pattern to tailoring and disassembled and reassembled some of the garments creating jackets and dresses that looked as if they were distorting and redesigning the body silhouette.
Morinaga also looked at Japanese artisanal techniques (a trend this season, as seen in previous posts) and came up with patchworked designs that included up to 1,000 pieces of fabric. Jewellery reflected the main theme of the collection with thin metal zigzagging necklaces evoking interferences and wave propagation.
One of the themes that may have been inspiring the designer the "Noise" collection is the current US Presidential Campaign, but, rather than sending political messages, Morinaga hinted with his designs at the "snow" effect generated by the dot pixel pattern of static on a TV screen, a metaphor for the confusion we live in, too often generated by the contrasting images, messages and slogans that we receive on a daily basis.
Still images do not make justice to the collection and it remains a bit of a mystery how the transformative qualities of the coded jacquards will become alive in the real world.
Morinaga actually showed some suggestions towards the end of the show when models donned see-through plastic pieces on top of their garments as a way to recreate a screen that could filter the patterns on the textiles.
As a whole the message of the collection wasn't that immediate maybe, as you had to stop and take in the visual trick and the code hidden in the textiles; yet slowing down to take in things is definitely not a bad idea.
Besides, while some designers are currently playing with embroideries and embellishments, Morinaga is mainly focusing on giving a new dimension to the textiles themselves rather than simply embellishing them on their surface, and he is also proving that key collaborations among creative minds from different fields can definitely push fashion forward and produce wearable pieces developed with the help of technology.
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