Anrealage’s Double Take

The Japanese designer's innovation in fabrics created a collection that challenged the viewer's perception of reality.

Let’s make it clear from the off: unlike most brands, Japanese brand Anrealage is not on schedule for sales. It is here to communicate and test Kunihiko Morinaga’s aesthetic treatise. Taking place at the Palais des Beaux-Art — a venue also used by Chalayan — Morinaga once again asks us to question our perception of reality.

Entitled Clear, SS’19 is a development of the myriad of ideas which have interested Morinaga since he started the brand in 2003. Like all auteurs, each of his shows reveals a particular line of research. But with Moringa, such things are never, in a word, clear. Instead the audience is given over to the show for what it is: an incredible showcase of material technology, dedicated embellishment and unparalleled craftsmanship.

What unfolds is a gentle assault on the senses: by the first group of dresses, we know we are in safe hands. Each outfit features more than 5,000 surface parts, some transparent, with cube and stud decoration from a new urethan material made in collaboration with Mitsui chemicals. As the show notes state, these intricate and ornate looks, worn with dazzling, bejewelled headpieces, illustrate that God is certainly in the details.

In themselves alone, these looks would have been stunning. Yet Morinaga, being who he is, goes on to ask how light, space and time can change a garment. Using UV light and photochromic fabrics, garments are made to change colour before our very eyes. Clear, stabe notions of clothing are disrupted through this playful use of light to show how things are far from certain in the world of Anrealage.

This is used to great theatrical effect through the repetition of seven dresses which open and close the show. In the second showing, the garments are transformed in colour, and worn with different shoes. The uncanny effect of showing the same dresses twice makes us question our own perceptions and memories: on one hand, a subtle parody of our attempt to find meaning in each particular season, on the other, a direct challenge to the critical ability to distinguish between pieces. By revealing the limitations of fashion, Moringa pushes it forward. Anrealage is at the very cutting edge of what it means to question ourselves and our industry.