The mottled light spots of a disco ball threw their bright glowing specks against the walls as guests waited as expectantly as prom dates. Whatever Junya Watanabe has to say must be computed by the clues he provides. So, armed with this, and a tuxedo printed on the invitation, the asterisk of Garçons falling smack on the first shirt button, Watanabe threw a fabulous formal built on classic evening wear, celebrated through the suave moves of the Motown boys. Or perhaps that was just the tantalizing cue offered by a soundtrack populated by the velvet vocals of Delegation and Starvue.
The music matched the mood, however. Dapper gentlemen ambled down the red carpeted runway, dressed to the nines. Dinner suits and cumberbund belts, jackets cut from thick marled knitwear but as pin-straight and impeccable as from woven cloth, puffer jacket with ribbed velvet collar, Watanabe clearly explored an orchestral version of the tuxedo. Jazzmen and Fresh Princes of music, they were the smooth underbelly of high society, sharply dressed yet characterful; a little scrappy too, as one dude stalked past with his knuckles wrapped in gauze. All sported some form of headgear, top hats or bowlers, perched jauntily atop their heads, and on their feet, super shined patent or bicolor full brogues.
Long has the Japanese designer been working the sartorial into the rough, but here it felt like the reverse. The piecing that comes with the territory appeared, integrated into contrasting bias and along hemlines, then creeping up to cover the entire surface of tuxedo jackets. As a whole suit, the patchwork — in varying degrees of luster, black on black — was the perfect counterpoint to the tuxedo stripe running down the side of the leg. Of course, Watanabe’s surgical precision in assembly and tailoring is capital to the endeavor. As always, the result was fascinating to take in. “Can’t take my eyes off you,” as John Lloyd Young sang.