Britain’s impending divorce from the European Union helped inspire perhaps the least likely cultural response: a Korean designer’s fashion show on the other side of the planet in Tokyo.
In unisex brand ACUOD by CHANU’s mission to sweep away gender boundaries, the Japanese-trained Chanwoo Lee gave the zip a starring role Wednesday in his fall/winter 2017 collection on day three of fashion week.
It was a veritable zip fest: zips on hats, snaking from buttocks to crotch, on sleeves, and up the back and down the front of jackets making it possible for the wearer to customise each garment to their own desire.
With surgical masks ubiquitous on the streets of Tokyo, offering protection from viruses or solace from a “bad face day,” Lee dressed his models in black leather versions with giant zips across the mouth.
Heavy and looped over each ear, each model wore a mask that could be zipped up or zipped apart at the mouth, plastering each face in an almost menacing metallic grin and obscuring much of their features.
Zips, Lee said, “connect different cultures and open a new world”.
He dubbed the show “Break Down Walls, Zip Up Difference” that bizarrely turned out to be about EU secessionist movements just days after Britain announced it will trigger its exit next week from the European Union.
“Today there are many political movements such as EU secession in the world, but basically I think that we’re all the same humans,” said Lee, speaking to reporters in fluent Japanese after the show.
“I wanted to express peace through my collection. But just a ‘love and peace’ kind of thing would be boring so I wanted to express peace with a rebellious spirit,” he added.
The show kicked off with a performance by beatboxer Kairi and a freestyle dance from Gendai and won loud cheers from the normally reticent Japanese fashion audience in what was standing-room only.
Lee only made his Tokyo Fashion Week runway debut last season in October 2016 but ACUOD by CHANU has already won a slew of awards for its blend of mens and womenswear, sporty and semi-formal street cool.
“I want my brand to be a street brand that people can even wear at weddings,” Lee said professing a distaste for formal suits. “I’ll never wear one as long I live.”