Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ruff Action

Junya Watanabe

Junya Watanabe

Junya Watanabe (Japanese, b. 1961) for Comme des Garçons (French, founded 1969). Ensemble, fall/winter 2000–1. Pale greige polyester organza and silver polyester and cellophane panné velvet. Purchase, Richard Martin Bequest, 2001 (2001.742a, b)

Junya Watanabe referred to his fall/winter 2000–2001 collection as “techno-couture.” Indeed, this ensemble, with the explicit flourish of labor and controlled technique in its gargantuan, honeycomb ruff and the innovative fabrics of cutting-edge technology, merges both the artisanal and the experimental. The ruff, which is separate from the dress, can be collapsed into a small looped rectangle and stored in an envelope. The dress itself is a sleeveless sheath with a narrow flared hem. It is draped in such a way as to introduce some angled bunching at the waist and hipline, as if the dress has been skewed inadvertently. That this “imperfection” is built into the dress is a manifestation of the designer’s subtly “twisted” and subversive ideal of imperfect beauty.

Comments (46)

  1. Laurie Aron Says:

    This is a fascinating creation. The ruff is like one of those 17C Dutch wagon wheel models set free! Softened and made irregular. And imagine that you could fold it into a rectangle, whereas (Met correct me if I’m mistaken) I imagine the old version of ruffs stayed stiff and large, although they would have to be starched and ironed somehow.

    That the dress is also subtly twisted beautifully carries the theme.

    Most likely some people will point out the impracticality of wearing this rough. Imagine the amuse-gueles that could get lost in it! But practicality, except in folding, is clearing not the point.

  2. Krista Beth Says:

    Well, I’m sorry that I can’t see this in person or examine it closer, but it’s nice to finally see something that isn’t boring. I have always been a fan of Junya Watanabe for his elaborate and innovative techniques. He never fails to evoke a reaction. I love a designer who is willing to push fashion to it’s limits and who is ready to challenge what is common. Junya Watanabe does not impose restrictions on what is beautiful.

    This dress just one of many examples of his work that expresses this. The ruff folds into the size of an envelope? That is thrilling. The ruff is ethereal and the simple (but is it?) dress is the perfect compliment. The work of Junya Watanabe goes so much deeper than just fashion or clothes. His work is modern day philosophy made absolute.

  3. Krista Beth Says:

    And Laurie, I also anticipate comments about how unwearable it is. But when did fashion become about being wearable only? It is an art form just like any other and should not be restricted to the confines of wearability.

  4. Laurie Aron Says:

    Clearly, I meant practicality was clearly not the point!

  5. Krista Beth Says:

    I know! I was agreeing and anticipating other comments. :)

  6. Kristy Says:

    This piece is fascinating. The ruff looks like an old collar or sleeve blown up and wrap around the body. It is definitely is not practical, but it is still wearable. This is what makes fashion so great, it is art but at the same time it is wearable and marketable. My favorite part is that it can be folded up into an envelope. That feature makes the outfit very versatile.

  7. c willow Says:

    i think its fun, even if its not wearable anywhere but the catwalk. I wonder how it was constructed?

  8. rjonte Says:

    So once I was like, what would Queen Elizabeth I have worn if she was by miracle of time travel infiltrated into modern culture ? Then I saw this dress and all questions were answered. Except of course what the hell she’d do about that hairline…

  9. tommie Says:

    Het is zeer mooi! schitterend werk die jullie leveren:D


  10. Laurie Aron Says:

    Maybe we headed them off at the pass? Unwearability comments don’t seem like a big part of this thread!!

    Interestingly, there was a Columbia Spectator review of this blog and the show which I picked up, living in the neighborhood. It was ALL about the “I like it” “I hate it” “Ew” “Gross” comments, and how the Met had met the Mall, or words to that effect. Awfully biased!! I have a feeling it’s people who are passing through with no intention of returning that leave the flip comments, and the thoughtful people who have the conversations. You can’t expect everyone to have deep feelings or impressions of what they see, although hopefully they’ll get there, and I think fashion as art is still a very difficult concept.

  11. Laurie Aron Says:

    I should amend that. PLENTY of people make thoughtful one-off comments.

  12. Krista Beth Says:

    Yes, I believe we did. :)

    I find that the passers-through generally make comments that are not helpful or insightful to the viewer. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule and I appreciate that. It’s nice to know how people feel beyond “I hate it” or “I love it” or “I’d wear it”. I definitely agree that fashion as art may be a concept that hasn’t been fully embraced, although it is by no means a new concept.

  13. A blog.mode fav post - Junya Watanabe | I want - I got Says:

    […] blog.mode - Ruff Action Junya Watanabe (Japanese, b. 1961) for Comme des Garçons (French, founded 1969). Ensemble, fall/winter 2000–1. Pale greige polyester organza and silver polyester and cellophane panné velvet. Purchase, Richard Martin Bequest, 2001 (2001.742a, b) […]

  14. Jill Says:

    This is an interesting outfit. Very chic. If it didn’t hav that hood/puff thing , I might wear it, but even with the puff/hood thing I think it’s cool :)

  15. Chloé Gingrich Says:

    The construction of this piece is truly magnificant. The dress is obviously not practical for everyday wear but it captures the fashion world to the t. Fashion is an expression, art for the body for everyday wear. Sure, the piece is not practical, but it is the spectacular construction, from the idea, to the stitching to the final product. Purely genius, this is what fashion is truly about. The idea, the magic behind the designer. Magnificant!

  16. Stephanie Doiron Says:

    I agree with the comments regarding the lack of appreciation and/or recognition of fashion as an art form. Just like any other art form, fashion is just as viable. Is just on a body instead of a canvas per say. This piece is beautiful. The overall appearance looks like a soft and delicate flower, yet it has such flexibility and strength as a result of the technologically advanced fabrics. That information is so open to interpretation. What does it all mean? One thought is that despite the delicate and beautiful appearance that women have in today’s modern society, we are still strong and resilient. Fabulous :)

  17. Krista Beth Says:

    Stephanie, that’s just how I explained Avant-garde to someone yesterday! He asked who on earth would wear the crazy stuff that you see on the runway and I had to explain to him that it is about art, just like a painting on a canvas is about art. Oh, pedestrians. How do we live among them? :)

  18. Ritu Sharma Says:

    Well i feel, that this is a brilliant piece, the fact that the entire thing can fold up and fit in an envelope is really worth commending. Mostly when a garment is created purely on a conceptual basis, people forget the practical aspect.

    I also liked the idea of the ” imperfect Beauty”….how many people in the world are actually perfect????….and someone from the fashion industry to take notice of that and salute the fact, is in a way great!!

    i also love the whole soft and fragile look of the dress!! and the tough experimental fabric used to create the look

  19. Alyssa S Says:

    I think this piece is so beautiful. It’s stunning to look at, and seeing it in person was even more spectacular. I would love to see it on someone on a runway or something and see how much a person could flatter the dress!

  20. Hannah Montana Says:

    This is sooooo fit for the best of both worlds

  21. Christina Says:

    This outfit is amazing and even more beautiful in person. It has so much technology incorporated in it and is still very feminine and flirty. I love how the large ruff is detachable and can fit into an envelope.

  22. LA CHALUPA Says:


  23. sydney Says:

    This is a mesmorizing creation!!!!! I absoulutly love it from head to toe, its beautiful and inspiring!

  24. Keiko Johnson Says:

    Comme des Garcons was founded by Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo in Japan.
    In the description, it says that it was founded in France but it is a mistake.
    Rei Kawakubo is one of the most artistic and influential fasion designer in all time, and I can’t believe Metropolitan Museum made a mistake on this.

  25. Renata Zenteno Queiroz Says:

    Since I started to know Kawakubo work at the University she doesn’t stop surprising me! The texture is amazing, and although she likes to deform the body as a philosophy of 21st century beauty, I woul defenitly wear the dress!

  26. Candi Joy Rodriguez Says:

    This piece looks like it was inspired by some sort of dog with a big fur ruff, like a Chow-Chow. If that’s the case, I admire the creativity !

  27. Adelina Says:

    This is as dainty, delicate, intricate and beautiful as a cherry blossom in spring. It is an amazing design!

  28. Tyjuana Says:

    This dress is beautiful and I love the scarf.The degin is very unique.

  29. RICHARD Says:

    my sister, Lena, would like this.

  30. connor malone Says:


  31. Juan Paolo Says:

    What beauty and inspiration! I can’t believe this is on display. What a gift to the community.

  32. Kaleigh B Says:

    This piece was the perfect choice for the first thing for people to see as they walk down the stairs to the costume institute. First of all the seamingly simple silhouette of the basic sheath dress is slightly changed by the asymmetric drapping gathered near the waist. Although this is a small difference, it makes a dramatic difference in the piece as a whole. Along with the dress, the dramatic and innovative neckpiece looks as if it is lighter than the clouds and was created out of thin air. It is obvious that it was created with such intimacy, detail, and care and it amazes me that it can be detached and folded up into a small envelope! The colors of the piece add to the atherial feel of lightness with its pastel neutrals. Overall this is an amazing piece.

  33. MINJEE K Says:

    The evning dress, from Nina ricci’s spring summer collection for 2007, is made of silk organza. This steel gray silk dress has great volume and frills. The silk fabric is heated to be crinkled and that adds more volume to dress. What is more beautiful about this fabric is that white silk thread stich. It gives shine to dress. Volume is all arond skirt, but Olivier theysken made back hemline longer, so somehow, it looks like having bustlel shape. I think that having small tube top without sleeves helps this dress. If it has big top, then it would be too much.

  34. Yaeli Says:

    junya watanabe always a pleasure for my eyes , a real research of structure and material, always on a other time, seems never in but always in a good moon. Its show always a gret time…

  35. HOOTTTT Says:

    WOW i would wear datttt

    and so will my BFF Rachellllll



  37. MERCEDES Says:

    AWESOME, its a really wonderfull collection

  38. Wendy Says:

    Oh~I love this dress.

  39. meimi1995529 Says:

    i HATE the ruff. HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT!!!!! :( Xp

  40. Sandra Says:

    It is pretty and all but not at all in this age maybe when we discover aliens and go galatic.

  41. jenny Says:

    very interesting dress. i would not wear it out… would you?

  42. Kat :-) Says:

    Looks Like Something Christian Siriano Would Create That Must Be Why I Love It, Because It’s Fierce!!! Completely Ferosh!! :-)

  43. Rachel Says:

    I think without the ruff it would be wearabele. But it is still incredibaly chic.

  44. Douglas Says:

    ruff rocks!!!!!!!!

  45. Kay Says:

    Wow! The artisticness of it is really great, but I agree with others that it is not practical in any neans. However, it looks amazing anyways.

  46. fiifii Says:

    total paris fashion!! love it

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