John Lawrence Sullivan Menswear Fall Winter 2013 Paris

Earlier this year Arashi Yanagawa, the designer behind the brand John Lawrence Sullivan told me in an interview that he no longer wanted to be considered a “new menswear designer, just a designer”. In other words he sought to pass from the status of up and comer to a designer with an established and recognizable style that would set him apart from his peers.  He succeeded in doing exactly that with his fall/winter 2013 show.

While he anxiously waited for a late arriving model Yanagawa explained (via a translator) that he wanted to bring a freshness to menswear “finding new colors, new prints and new cuts that challenge me,” he said with a quick smile.  Well, the show didn’t just challenge the designer, it also challenge the audience.

It dared them to accept menswear that was a provocative blend of London punk rocker meets Masai warrior by way of a Japanese samurai. How Yanagawa made the mélange work was by taking a key element from each archetype. The proportions came from Japan in the form of hakama pants and boxy outerwear. The tartan and aggressive blue and yellow flower prints looked like they had come directly off the back alley streets of London. While the patterned appliqués and embellishments on turtleneck sweaters and the breastplate like leather shirts were undeniably straight out of Africa.

The upshot was that this collection was able to successfully blend long, slightly rectangular shapes, which look rather comfortable, with unexpected textile combinations. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Yanagawa’s footwear. He showed some of the best designer sneakers seen on the catwalk so far this season.

- Jessica Michault