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In Paris this week, Anrealage designer Kunihiko Morinaga lived up to his reputation for combining technical wizardry with craftsmanship.
His Paris Fashion Week show Tuesday, in a subterranean space beneath the city’s Palais de Tokyo venue, took his signature photochromic fabric technology—materials that dramatically change color under ultraviolet light—to even more extreme levels of innovation.
This season, his fabric of choice for the photochromic treatment was transparent, environmentally friendly “phthalate-free” PVC, in all manner of iterations. The collection was aptly titled “Invisible.”
First to take to the venue’s central podium were a series of puffer silhouettes, which were quilted with air instead of down or feathers. They were described by the show notes as resembling “couture bubble wrap.”
Models walked out individually or in pairs, first doing a circuit in regular lighting so the original state of the garments could be observed by showgoers. But then they positioned themselves on a central disc whereupon the lighting changed to ultraviolet.
This in turn acted upon the garments, transforming them into all colors of the rainbow. The disc proceeded to slowly revolve so everyone could see the full 360-degree effect. Then the lights went up and they exited the stage in the newly colored looks, which slowly faded back to their original state.
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More streamlined trench silhouettes followed, some contoured into checkerboard patterns via taped seams. These duly took on multiple hues in the different squares and borders. Even the denim and cotton bodysuits worn underneath changed their colors to reveal a repeat pattern of "AZ" monogram logos.
Morinaga, who has been experimenting with photochromic fabric technology for over a decade, has even trademarked his proprietary tech under the name ANVISUAL.
Alongside the couture-level tech, Morinaga’s handcraftsmanship was also clearly evidenced, and the facing and seams were often hand-embroidered or knitted.
The designer also modulated the show lights via a “hyperspectral color control technology,” so shades rippled across the surfaces of the garments according to the different light sources.
The show notes stated that the concept was derived from Morinaga’s exploration of “umwelt” (German for “environment”), with the idea being that “color as perceived by the human eye is not absolute and shifts according to the environment, depending on the weather and physical and chemical elements.”
The final pairing, the most impressive of all, featured a raincoat duo with a kaleidoscopic mosaic effect recalling stained glass. It played out to a suitably ecclesiastical inflected organ soundtrack.