Tokyo Fashion Week Spring 2016 (Part 1)

By Juliette Olah, originally published on

After opening with a show by New York-based menswear designer Todd Snyder, the spring season of Tokyo fashion week was off. From delicate lace dresses to edgy streetwear and even some clothes designed specifically for the physically handicapped, the first two days off the week literally had something for everyone. Read on for our recap below.

Mint Designs


Full marks. Mint Designs’ consistently clever, coherent collections are a joy to watch. The talented Central Saint Martins duo treated audiences to more of their divinely feminine, uber contemporary stylings, and succeeded in wiping the fear of Tokyo’s grizzly winter from the forefront of this author’s mind (at least momentarily). While highly styled, there’s an effortlessness to Nao Yagi and Hokuto Katsui’s work. Floaty floral pastel prints were kept grounded by stark black and moody grey tailoring and finished off with trainers. Never ones to ignore headwear, the collection featured silver foiled coronets adorned with foliage-like designs. It was great to see some children’s wear incorporated so seamlessly into the collection as well. The padded 3D tote bag is one piece I’ll be flirting with come spring. –Juliette Olah



An electric vibe swirled about the narrow top floor of the Cultural Centre Owada (which also houses a planetarium), the Tokyo night sky glowing vibrantly in the background. The Facetasm audience was an edgy set, and these guys wanted newness. Now.

For Bunka College graduate Hiromichi Ochiai, styling was an obvious win. The wispy, asymmetric hairdos, heavily painted, doll-like makeup, and models who nonchalantly sauntered along the runway (no strutting allowed here) created a distinctly modern, inventive mood. It was a pleasure to watch and created an understated, elegant kind of drama. The garments had a similarly dreamy feel, with stunning demonstrations of craftsmanship in stacks of knotted and pleated cotton layers, and the wildly exaggerated proportions of shirts and jackets. But Ochiai’s signature 90s grunge influence was still evident in the way of distressed leather and neon safety vests that topped the more floaty textures used this season. Overall, it was a wonderfully atmospheric, technically brilliant show with lots of heart and a highly devoted fan set. Utterly memorable. –Juliette Olah



KBF’s choice of venue for their spring show, a gloomy outdoor passage by the rugby stadium, was not a style-without-substance decision. With a collection inspired by landscapes, artful choreography played on the dramatic physicality of the space to exemplify the designer’s mood. As heavy techno reverberated through the area (concrete echoes something phenomenal) models emerged from the top of stadium seating stairways, descending onto the runway in a barrage of engrossing activity.  Designs materialized rapidly from both directions of the runway, creating an urgent onslaught for the senses that was artful and mesmerising.

Outfits were mostly arranged in edgy tonal colourways of cobalt blue, creams, silvers, mauves and khaki with the occasional attack of all black for contrast. KBF is no stranger to sporty silhouettes and fabrics, and the collection’s fluid tailoring united harmoniously to provide chic urban-jungle preparedness. Each look was carefully considered, yet irresistibly nonchalant.

After the runway cleared and darkness resumed in preparation for the finale, audiences were treated to a strobe light show set to blaring electronic noise. Models wore simple black leotards with towering black pumps and walked in rapid succession to flash an army of bare legs. It was an electrifying finish, and easily my favourite show (and this was genuinely a “show”) of the season. An astonishingly cool result. –Juliette Olah



Tenbo’s signature departure from anything traditional by fashion week standards is provocative and certainly elicits an emotional response. As a designer myself, I tend to focus primarily on the art and technical skill of the designs put before me. Not much else usually grabs my attention. However, that kind of narrow-mindedness is not exactly possible when seated at a Tenbo show. This is a damn political statement, and designer Takafumi Tsuruta demands you sit up and listen (please).

The show had a narrative structure hinging around the horrific destruction of 1945, and opened with dooming monochromatic video imagery of a nuclear explosion. Models, many of whom were physically impaired, seemed to enact distinct characters, interacting with the audience and adopting various personas. The garments had only tenuous links to each other, standing alone more as costumes rather than a united collection.

Tsuruta functions as a designer to provide inclusive fashion, open and accepting to all—an important and beautifully moving platform from which to create. However, sadly, it seemed that the garments were overshadowed by the theatrics of the show. Yet there was one creation that had every phone in the studio snapping double-time. An incredibly joyful rainbow dress made of thousands of paper cranes obtained from a memorial monument at Hiroshima Memorial Park, complete with matching printed knee socks. Wow.

And with that, Tsuruta ended his story with exalted peace and hope. A stirring performance. –Juliette Olah