Oct 24, 2016
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Harajuku, cheesy, sci-fi: subculture in Tokyo fashion

Oct 24, 2016

The Marc Jacobs of Japan, singing cats and models cloaked into armour: J-pop and science fiction transformed Tokyo Fashion Week spring/summer 2017 into a style fest unlike any other.

In a world where fashion mines entertainment like never before, Japan's established and break-through labels pounced on musical hook-ups, street culture and animation to drive interest.

Here are the most outlandish shows that closed the week.

Marc Jacobs of Japan

Mikio Sakabe got the biggest applause of the week for his show in Miyashita Park, a last hurrah before it closes for renovations ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

Mikio Sabe spring/summer 2017 - Tokyo Fashion Week

His seven-inch platform shoes were the star -- laced up to the ankle with thick ribbon -- similar to those already seen on the New York runway at Jacobs this year, though Sakabe told AFP he had been working on them before the master of American high fashion set his loose.

As with Jacobs, the look crafted an impossibly long silhouette that either drowned the models in oversized suiting or flashed legs for miles in the tiniest of skirts or belted shorts that hung below the backside, the wearers' blushes saved by striped shirts.

In a nod to Japan's Lolita culture, Harajuku street fashion and "Kawaii" -- meaning cute, loveable and childish -- there were girly dresses embellished with feathers, a black plastic and metallic pleated skirt, and a beige culotte suit covered in bunny rabbits thrown in for good measure.

The label, known for avant-garde fashion, is beloved by Japanese pop stars and celebrating its 10th birthday.

Sakabe told AFP he wanted to mix '70s, '80s and '90s influences and was motivated to find a new silhouette given that Japanese designers normally focus on texture. "I wanted to make something new," he explained.

Singing Cats

Less Andrew Lloyd Webber smash-hit "Cats" and more something else entirely. Up and coming designer Yukihiro Teshima could win cheesiest show of the year for brand Yukihero Pro-Wrestling.

Held in a nightclub, the usual 10-minute show was ditched in favour of a 40-minute music bonanza starring all-girl band Yumemiru Adolescence, Western models dressed Andy Warhol style and Japanese actors.

It was a riot of colour, humour and kitsch -- with a hefty side order of cheese as the singers bopped around in cat ears, playsuits covered in multicoloured wool and Campbell Soup ruffles.

His models strode out in 1950s yellow, pink and orange-rinse wigs, and overpainted matching lipstick pouts a la Warhol's famous portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.

They wore a monkey motif called Monchhichi, popular in the 1970s, revived with Hello Kitty in the 1990s and subsequently exported to Britain as "Chicaboo."

There were also peeled banana cutouts pinned to jeans. So what was the message from the man who designs for film, pop groups and wrestlers?

"I want to tell people that having fun is important," Teshima said.

Silver plaits

Designer Keiichiro Yuri, a former 3D graphic designer best known for creating bags whose label Keiichirosense made its fashion week debut only last season, was perhaps the oddest of all.

The show started with the sound of the swelling sea and closed with Prince track "Gold" as the designer strutted around in futuristic platforms and tucked two plastic dolls into his waistband.

There were enormous wide-brimmed Little Bo Peep hats, plastic science-fiction style armour and shell-like sheaths worn over metallic skirts straight from a space-age or alien movie.

There were incredible free-standing blouses and capes, shaped like discs and zipped up like cushion covers that encased the upper body.

Silver lace-up arm warmers and Rapunzel-style plaited hair, complete with silver extensions, finished off the look.

"This is my way of expressing Cool Japan," the designer told AFP. "The youth create our future. I think the Harajuku look is absolutely right. I want to tell them it is you guys who make the next age!"

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