It may sound reductive working with just one colour, but it is often the case that focusing on a limited palette can help an artist or a fashion designer to shift their attention on different aspects such as construction techniques, as seen yesterday in the case of Junya Watanabe's A/W 16 collection.
A former Comme des Garçons pattern cutter, Kei Ninomiya mainly works with black, but his monochromatic palette allows him to expand his research on textile techniques and therefore use his collections as laboratories where he can experiment with innovative seams and flexible elements that can help him introducing other themes such as movement in his designs.
For his A/W 2016 collection the designer created dresses using strips of macramé of polyester; he anchored leather patches with studs and designed chunky bulbous knits in synthetic industrial materials.
The two opening pieces introduced a new material for Ninomiya - faux fur - woven with faux leather and braided in a jacket or reduced to fluffy pom-poms. The weaving and braiding techniques added a novelty element to classic outerwear with a masculine touch such as a parka, a bomber jacket and a duffle coat, while shirts included micro-studded details around the cuffs.
Ninomiya also attempted to go beyond the boundaries of mere design when he left his strips of material unfastened and let his designs unravel and transform from a solid to an impalpable state.
Surprise is definitely one of his techniques and quite often what looks like macramé knotting reveals itself as a pile of tiny strips of tulle; studs are made of plastic and not metal; knitting is made with metal hardware and connecting rings are used as threads.
Ninomiya has also got a penchant for simplicity and often employs a basic technique to create variations in complexity, density, connectivity, abundance, orientations, deformations and transformations.
As the show progressed, the designer introduced garments that played on proportions, and that included wearable mid-length skirts and knee-length dresses with detachable ruffle-fixed panels at each hip (in men's suiting fabrics) and bell-shaped dresses covered in strips of textiles.
One of his recurring themes is the biker jacket, this time recreated with embroideries along the arms or made of concentric circles of stiff shiny thread. Ninomiya's take on the biker jacket shows another key point in his practice - his will to find alternative solutions to stitching, decorating or embellishing a garment.
A close analysis of some of these garments may bring to mind textile techniques like braiding and its aesthetic and technical possibilities and architectural comparisons with structural systems like Gaudi's equilibrated structures made of catenary, hyperbolic and parabolic arches and curves.
Yet Ninomiya doesn't mention or reference any grand works of art and design or a specific architect in interviews and show notes, but seems keener to approach his designs with a directness and integrity currently missing in the fashion industry.
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