In The Crowd, It Stands Out

Kolor’s Juniche Abe takes the less-than-ordinary and makes them everyday. And vice-versa. The result are clothes that stay above the humdrum


Kolor SS 2019 P1

Shibuya, Tokyo. Any day.

If you have been to what is repeatedly dubbed as the second busiest mass rapid transit station in the world (after Shinjuku, about 4km away), you’d probably know that moving through the crowd leaves you no space to people watch. If you don’t notice the commuters, chances are, you won’t notice their clothes. This is the part of Tokyo that is a little vexing for fashion watchers. In the hustle and bustle, the moving mass is not quite a collision of individualists.

Yet it is in Shibuya that Juniche Abe chose to film his spring/summer collection. That he chose to present video clips rather than the traditional show that he has been staging in Paris for the past six years is perhaps indication that Mr Abe is making a statement about the street when such a point need not really be made in the present Men’s Fashion Week climate. With the stills evocative of Japanese street style, this could be a declaration that street wear in Tokyo is as valid as street wear in any part of America. For us, it’s better.

Kolor SS 2019 G1

Kolor has always been a label that rejects the tag classic, yet Mr Abe is an adherent of rather classic ways of clothes-making, especially with his fondness for technical outdoor wear. This is not quite the technical of White Mountaineering—fashion that can test the tough conditions of a climb, but Kolor does pull components of technical garments to work into those pieces culled from sportswear and even collegiate clothes (and the occasional preppy blazer). Hybrid would be a lazy description as Kolor is not about amalgamating but enhancing.

Take their outwear. A blouson always looks like a blouson but it’s what Mr Abe adds to or subtracts from it that makes you wonder what to call this garment. A lightweight Harrington jacket from the latest collection, for example, is given a ribboned bib-front and is worn tucked into the trousers like a shirt. So is this a shirt or a jacket? It is not really a hybrid either, is it? Whatever you might wish to call it, the shirt-slash-jacket is not without its charm. And that is why Kolor is always so intriguing.

Kolor SS 2019 G2Kolor SS 2019 G3

Furthermore, there is the colour. For a name that plays on colour (the K predates Kardashian’s vulgar fame), it would be strange that Mr Abe does not have a sharp chromatic sense. He does not use colours the way Raf Simons does, but Mr Abe has a rather keen sense of those that do not owe their brilliance to modern pigments. The hues he uses has almost a retro vibe: the burnt orange, hillbilly green, the rain-wear blue—these and their combinations border on the off-beat, something that will appeal to the fashion geek.

At times, it feels that what Kolor proposes is typical of Japanese labels also walking down this path, such as Sacai and Undercover. We can’t negate the fact that is Japanese aesthetics and motivation: never to quite leave a garment alone and unwilling to reject the desire to create the unexpected from standard forms. The most powerful street wear designer today Virgil Abloh owes much of Off-White’s DNA to the Japanese. Let’s see him deny that.


Mighty Fine

The women’s wear of Lanvin may be a series of missteps after Alber Elbaz departed, but for its men’s collection, still-going-strong Lucas Ossendrijver delivered one of his best seasons yet


Lanvin SS 2019 P1

Lanvin isn’t what it used to be. With the brand’s corporate troubles, it has not only lost its prestige, but also its standing in French fashion’s current pantheon of greats. Men in the know, however, consider this the distress of the women’s wear division, not the Lanvin they have been buying. And those particularly unswayed by the social-media savvy of trending star designers continue to support Lucas Ossendrijver’s vision of the unconventional yet solidly contemporary.

Mr Ossendrijver remains true to what he and Alber Elbaz co-created following the former’s appointment at the house in 2006: never too classic, nor too casual, just the right dash of the nonchalant. In fact, it can be said that Lanvin was one of the first brandsif not the firstto propose the boundary-blurring idea of teaming athletic wear with tailoring, way before sweatpants are so scarily common. The whole relaxed approach to men’s wear truly found its proponent in Lanvin, culminating in the hugely successful collaboration with H&M in 2011.

Lanvin SS 2019 G1

Lanvin SS 2019 G2

No matter how informal the styles he’s been showing, Mr Ossendrijver, who cut his teeth at Kenzo, then Kostas Murkudis, and then Hedi Slimane’s Dior Homme, has always made construction and proportion the crux of the Lanvin identity. His latest collection continued to underscore these crucial components while enhancing its visual complexity. The observant may think that much of these have in common with Japanese labels such as Undercover, but Mr Ossendrijver has definitely put his own stamp on them.

On the surface many pieces may look like hybrid garments, but it is essentially the styling that gives the impression of hybridisation. Outdoor wear, often worn askew (also seen last season), was teamed with conventional shirting, for example, but brought together in such a way as not to give the impression of composites of disparates. These are no doubt the work of a sophisticated mind and discerning hands. It is true when Mr Ossendrijver told the media that guys are attracted to Lanvin because of its “elaborate workmanship”.

Lanvin SS 2019 G3

Lanvin SS 2019 G4

They, too, would be attracted to an abbreviated polo-shirt-as-cape worn like a gilet or the cropped cousin slipped atop shirt sleeves, or boxy jumpers pulled over T-shirts the way much of the young do these days. Although there was much more layering than what is typical of the spring/summer season, Mr Ossendrijver was careful to keep the silhouette fairly lean, not ultra-skinny, adequately roomy, not unusually voluminous. In this regard, he did not appear to deliberately stay clear of extremes—the either-or approach of many showing in Paris.

At times, there seemed to be the sensibility of football blokes in the way the pieces were pulled together, as if in haste, or missing a mirror. These were all the more charming considering how the most popular shows of the season were careful compositions of precise tailoring and totally low-key—as counterpoint—in controlled harmony. You see, for some of us, the truly wicked is in the devil-may-care.