Junya Watanabe Spring 2017 Menswear Collection
Take Spring 2017, where swaggering and heavily inked sorts meandered menacingly toward the audience, confronting each bench of onlookers with a sneer. The small-town big man was Watanabe’s jump-off point—gangsters, hustlers, general ne’er-do-wells. Boys from the wrong side of the tracks.
Or at least, their impression and impressionists. Back to those models’ bodies: Watanabe deliberately chose a selection of tattooed types this season. Where there wasn’t a tattoo, a fake one was drawn on to ratchet up the perceived intimidation factor. That’s a cliché, but there is still something unsettling about a facial tattoo barely covering a scowling countenance—even if the allover arm decoration dubbed “sleeves” are fashionable and indeed appear on many a runway as par for the course of casting young, thin men in the 21st century. Everybody’s at it. Maybe that’s where the interest in sleeves came from, as Watanabe patched the padded and quilted arms of biker jackets onto jackets or coats tailored in tweed—the dirty-work-doing henchman fused with the besuited mob boss.
Other sleeves were notably decorated, in florals, say, or paisley, or tattoo-style prints on plain wool, with tattooed bodied echoed—very obliquely—by tropical prints, black on beige. Watanabe doesn’t seem like the type to consort with criminals: He quoted from cinematic references and archetypes, particularly Emir Kusturica’s Eastern European farce Black Cat, White Cat.