h.NAOTO showed its latest collection in its brand new flag shop right in the center of Tokyo’s trendy Harajuku district. In uncluttered and immaculate white empty spaces, Naoto presented almost exclusively black silhouettes, and some sort of turbaned warrior widow, whose smooth and cold expression was hidden behind a veil.
Naoto is definitely not a fashion designer for everybody. His designs occupy the very particular world of Japanese Gothic fashion, with endless references to Rococo and Victorian styles, but also to Lolita and S&M. Yet, he manages not to overlook true fashion, a search for his own style and concept that he interprets into his own code. He uses beautiful clean cuts and materials that are thoroughly h.NAOTO. Naoto crumples, damages and bleaches fabrics, and even destroys a creation to give it a new structure. His silhouette is decidedly adult and thoroughly austere.
h.NAOTO has given credibility to gothic Japanese fashion, creating a kind of urban neo-classicism which includes frills and lace alongside a strict cut trench coat or tunic, long umbrella dresses, and a large turtleneck that is very 80’s.
There was oriental inspiration in this collection. Such as the extreme length and overlapping of fabrics, and—as the designer himself explained—an association to turbans. This somehow evokes images of the blue men of the desert, or some veiled sexual slave from Zanzibar, with all the mystery with which these myths are littered.
Especially noticeable were a pretty dandy silhouette—Naoto has a soft spot for this type of creation—, a horsewoman in boots and hat, a sort of punk militiaman of some city from the future, a 2 meter long belt made of one single piece of leather, a pretty jumper dress with coordinated hood, and the laced, belted, damaged, face hidden behind a veil. Impenetrable and disquieting, yet beautiful.