Junya Watanabe

Watanabe’s work emerged in the footprint of 20th century Japanese fashion’s foundational figures. Developing his style under the supervision of Rei Kawakubo and turning to Issey Miyake and other leading lights of menswear for his inspiration, Watanabe forged a sparse and technical aesthetic that paid homage to his influences while bringing them together in search of a new synthesis. In Watanabe’s runway work, the impression of Kawakubo’s steadfast desire to invert aesthetic hierarchy is unmistakable, as is Miyake’s curiosity, his propensity for creative re-engineering, equally apparent in his commercial lines. Taken together, Watanabe’s contributions to Japanese fashions reveal the virtue of an artist who is confident enough to pay tribute to his masters while creating work that transforms and moves forward their collective historical project.