(yohj) JUN (viv): S/S 15

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My first thought when seeing Junya Watanabe’s S/S 15 collection at about the same time as the Comme des Garçons S/S 15 collection was that they were working off of the same page: both super red, both super weird, both super unexpected (but not really). And my comparison seemed justified when Susie Bubble covered both collections in one post, titled “One Idea”. But when I actually got around to downloading pictures to write a post last night, I found that, to me, the two collections weren’t all that similar after all. For one thing, Mr. Watanabe’s collection only has a smidgeon of red, whereas the CdG collection is all red. Also, the former is very geometrical and measured, whereas the latter is more haphazard and chaotic. Really, the only thing that still connected the two after last night’s re-viewing was that I didn’t care for either of them in terms of me wanting to wear them.

Upon second (zoomed in) glance though, it struck me just what Mr. Watanabe’s collection reminded me of. Have you read David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest? If you have a spare year, I completely recommend it (yes, it took me a year to get through it). I have a tendency to forget the majority of every book I’ve read after a couple months or so, even when I totally love a book, and so only a few scenes of Infinite Jest (which is on my top 10 list) are still stuck in my head three years after closing its covers. One of which is embodied by this collection. And I quote (…at length…remember the spare year comment…):

…the advent of video-telephoning (a.k.a. ‘videophony’) enjoyed an interval of huge consumer popularity – callers thrilled at the idea of phone-interfacing both aurally and facially…on first-generation teleputers that at that time were little more than high-tech TV sets…but why, within like 16 months or 5 sales quarters, the tumescent demand curve for ‘videophony’ suddenly collapsed like a kicked tent, so that, by the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment, fewer than 10% of all private telephone communications utilized any video-image-fiber data-transfers…?

…It turned out that there was something terribly stressful about visual telephone interfaces…Good old traditional audio-only phone conversations allowed you to presume that the person on the other end was paying complete attention to you while also permitting you not to have to pay anything even close to complete attention to her…Video telephone rendered the fantasy insupportable. Callers now found they had to compose the same sort of earnest, slightly overintense listener’s expression they had to compose for in-person exchanges…And the videophone stress was even worse if you were at all vain…for the image-conscious, there was of course no such answer-as-you-are informality about visual-video telephone calls…People were horrified at how their own faces appeared on the…screen.

The proposed solution…was, of course, the advent of High-Definition Masking…and consumers soon found that the high up-front cost of a permanent wearable mask was more than worth it, considering the stress…reduction benefits…but it turned out that consumers’ instinctively skewed self-perception, plus vanity-related stress, meant that they began preferring and then outright demanding videophone masks that were really quite a lot better-looking than they themselves were in person…within a couple more sales-quarters most consumers were now using masks so undeniably better-looking on videophones than their faces were in person…that enormous psychosocial stress began to result, large numbers of phone-users suddenly reluctant to leave home and interface personally with people who, they feared, were now habituated to seeing their far-better-looking masked selves on the phone and would on seeing them in person suffer (so went the callers’ phobia) the same illusion-shattering aesthetic disappointment that, e.g., certain women who always wear makeup give people the first time they ever see them without makeup.

The social anxieties surrounding the phenomenon…intensified steadily…Certain psychologically unscrupulous entrepreneurs began marketing full-body…2-D cutouts – sort of like the headless muscleman and bathing-beauty cutouts…Once you added variable 2-D wardrobe, hair- and eye-color options, various aesthetic enlargements and reductions, etc., costs started to press the envelope of mass-market affordability, even though there was at the same time horrific social pressure to be able to afford the very best possible masked 2-D body-image…How long, then, could one expect it to have been before…facial and bodily masking could…be dispensed with altogether and replaced with the video-transmitted image of what was essentially a heavily doctored still-photograph…How much time…would any micro-econometrist expect to need to pass before high-tech visual videophone was mostly abandoned, then, a return to good old telephoning not only dictated by common consumer sense but actually after a while culturally approved as a kind of chic integrity…*

Do you see the resemblance? If you look closely, even the lips on the models are fake (or at least plastic – they’re either taped on or over), making them match the vinyl 2-D hair/mask. Though the permanently posed lips might cause some concern for videophony, the one piece hair and facial contour-er would be quite convenient for that unexpected call. Then again, I still use a cellphone as a phone, cuz I’m chic like that.

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(Photos via Style.com)

*Text of Infinite Jest from pages 144-150 of Little, Brown and Company’s 1st edition (1996).

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