Anrealage’s Kunihiko Morinaga on Clothes as a Home

September 29, 2020

The Japanese designer for his Spring-Summer 2021 collection confronts the notions of protection and escapism.

By Katya Foreman

PARIS — Joining Paris Fashion Week’s digital lineup from his base in Tokyo is Anrealage’s Kunihiko Morinaga for whom the lockdown context sparked a desire to go back to his roots — a homecoming of sorts — and help spread a sense of optimism.

“Now that a lot of the shows are online, we can do them in places we never could have gone to before. It’s a positive thing to be able to present a collection in these kinds of locations so connected to nature,” says the designer who traveled
to Shizuoka to shoot the film for his Spring-Summer 2021 collection, “Home,” captured against the bucolic backdrop of Mount Fuji.

Known for its conceptual designs presented as performances, often mixing fashion with technology, Anrealage’s aesthetic is based on everyday wardrobe pieces morphed into new proportions through a mix of handcraft and expert pattern-making. Moving from vivid colors to basic austere tones, and from the Japanese “kawaii” sensibility to references to formal Western uniforms, for Morinaga, it’s all about tricking the eye and challenging the mind. His experimental pieces are also transformative – sculptures that become clothes; patterns that become prints – possessing an inherent unreal/real duality in a playful patchwork of forms and ideas which raise questions about our cultural and societal mutations.

Founded in 2003, and part of the Paris Fashion Week calendar since 2014, Anrealage is distributed in an exclusive network of international retailers including I.T Beijing Market, Club 21 in Singapore, and L’Eclaireur in Paris. Morinaga also works with the digital showroom, Tomorrow, and holds regular Zoom meetings with the brand’s customers.

In the Covid-19 era, where people are having to stay home to protect themselves, the designer this season wanted to explore the idea of a mobile sartorial home. “How about bringing the concept of the home to fashion, as something we can climb inside to protect our body,” he says, adding: “Fashion can move out.”

Popping against the green grass of a campsite, a triangular formation of brightly colored three-dimensional geometric tent structures are reinterpreted as outsized shapes that deflate into a series of period-costume-style pieces fashioned from a specially developed, glow-in-the-dark neon fabric with antiviral properties. Representing six shapes – sphere, tetrahedron, hexahedron, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron – looks ranging from coats in graphic patchworks to voluminous shirt dresses are based on patterns measuring two meters wide, in keeping with these socially distanced times. Structured with boning, and topped with impressive sculptural headpieces, each piece is collapsible. Once laid flat, a tug on the strings turns it back into an item of clothing. The transformed volumes are ruched and gathered with drawstrings to create cascades of flounces, adding majesty and romance to the looks.

Designed by leading Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the collection’s headgear doubles as lampshades. The futuristic transparent sneakers were designed in collaboration with Spingle Move, while a new bag line, based on around 10 shapes, melds handbags and square-shaped leather and canvas totes to translucent resin handles studded with dried flowers, as if caught in mid bloom.

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