Paris Day 6: Modern Junya Watanabe’s Harajuku Girls and the New Coolness of Hermès

The kawaii models in Junya Watanabe’s show were couples, sisters, or just friends and they mark the comeback of the Harajuku Girls after 20 years, now updated in a modern-day style. They are famous for being the Japanese streetwear tribe that used to mix different traditional and trendy clothes, which started in the central area of Tokyo and was exported worldwide by Gwen Stefani with her famous eponymous song.

Junya Watanabe Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

Fewer bows, pink, and cute embellishments but more grungy and tough. Only the doll style wigs were the last memory of the 90s colourful urban phenomenon. The clothes were a mix and match of different hippy flowered chemisiers – cut and re-stitched or blended with jackets, coats, and bombers. The Harajuku Girls were living in a cheerful pink unicorn bubble; the new ones are more aware about today’s world and ready to affirm their personality by kicking up their spiky cowboy boots.

Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

Conversely, the Comme des Garçons show was not kawaii at all. It was all about the gathering of shadow. The performance was about different kinds of women from the most rigorous (with black layered deconstructed jackets) to the most libertine (with see-through dresses with long oversized furry sleeves), from nuns (wearing big hoods or headpieces) to courtesans (in net tops that show the breasts, shorts and fishnet stockings, or oversized bras worn over the tops), or damas with ruffly frocks. No differences between census and race, all just women. The act ended with the models standing together in a kind of ritual circle as they became one community a kind of strength in togetherness.

Noir Kei Ninomiya Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.

Blooming roses were the theme of the Noir show by Kei Ninomiya. This show was a crescendo of volumes that turned into slimmer silhouettes, only to boom again in cocooning shapes. The headpieces were made by Japanese floral artist Makoto Azuma, well known for his experimental techniques using plants in various forms. Nature was also a source of inspiration for Cédric Charlier. The designer seems to consider birds as kinds of guardian angels that observe us from above, which was the main theme: printed silk dresses and tops with winged creatures flying over oneiric and surrealistic cities. As for contrast, there was also a strong dualism with a masculine tailoring for suits, shirts, and coats, but Charlier’s signature femininity was restated with feathers decorating waists and shoes.

Hermès Fall/Winter 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

This season, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski at Hermès gave a lot of personality to the collection. The contrast between the animal hide short pants and the sophisticated longuette skirt or the knickerbockers added a new needed coolness to the maison. The use of leather was skillful and made those items very desirable. As the designer said backstage after the show: “I wanted to tell about a woman that can be independent and strong but still wants to express her femininity, to give an idea of the democracy of beauty that everyone could enjoy.”

Grace Jones at the TOMMYNOW Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.

It was inclusivity at its best at the Tommy Hilfiger big catwalk show event. Seventies disco-roller girl meets iconic American sitcom “The Jeffersons” style with high-waisted bell bottom denims, leather jackets and skirts, prints and lurex at the core of the see-now-buy-now collection made in collaboration with Zendaya, the American actress and singer. It was a very enjoyable gig with iconic singer Grace Jones in the finale, but maybe the collection was a little bit more nostalgic than easy to sell.