araisara Spring 2014: Exacting technique lost in translation

The stage was set for the araisara Spring 2014 runway show in Tokyo.  Designer Sara Arai’s latest collection, titled 幻 想 曲 Genso-Kyoku (“Fantasia”), held the promise of ethereal things to come.  The imperial setting of the Meiji Kinenkan, a wedding hall of political and historical significance, and strategically placed lights, including a large white sphere that resembled a moon softly landing on earth, surrounded a garden runway, certainly creating a magical atmosphere.  But as the show itself began, progressed and segued into an indoor presentation, all these nocturnal elements merely served as wrapping paper for an underwhelming collection.

Not even the employment of helpers shining photographic lights on each of the models indoors could alter one’s opinions when viewing the loosely-cut clothes up close.  This is a shame when details emerge of how the emerald greens, sunny yellows and other distinct colors came together through a time-consuming Japanese fiber dyeing technique.  This technique, called Miyazome, hails from the city of Utsunomiya in the days of the Edo Period and involves soaking fabrics in dye, then hanging them to dry without forcing the colors into the material.  Vibrant tones alone, however, need more than subtle construction into flowing robes, blouses and shift dresses.  Unfortunately, details such as sunflower and floral motifs resembling fine ink pen sketches actually managed to distract, nearly pushing pieces from luxury to casual wear.  Compared to some of the more heavily styled collections in Tokyo, Arai’s minimalist take could have been a refreshing contrast, but went a bit too far in the opposite direction.

Show credits:

Director: Tatsuya Matsuyama
Stylist: Masaki Kataoka
Hair: Teru
Make-up: Yoshi.T

Photos: araisara Spring 2014 – Tokyo Fashion Week
all photos by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine

Video: araisara Spring 2014 – Tokyo Fashion Week
video by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine