| TOKYO, March 18
TOKYO, March 18 From a phoenix-themed collection
by a Japanese designer who has clothed Lady Gaga to touches of
traditional Mongolian decorations, designers showing at Japan
Fashion Week set their sights firmly on Asia and its huge
Chinese consumers have become the world's leading buyers of
luxury goods and account for one quarter of this market globally
with demand growing, according to a report by consulting firm
Bain & Co.
The fashion extravaganza showcasing the autumn and winter
collections of 2013/14 kicked off at the weekend but Japanese
brands took to the stage on Monday with Masanori Morikawa and
his self-directed label, "Christian Dada".
Morikawa has created several pieces for American pop star
Lady Gaga including a pink dress reminiscent of an origami crane
for her 2012 "Born This Way Ball" tour.
This time he turned to Asia for inspiration with an edgy,
androgynous collection titled "Fenghuang," which is Chinese for
the mythical bird phoenix, pairing long, loose pants with richly
embroidered lace on shirt sleeves for men and women.
Leather pants and jackets mingled with down-panelled
trousers and shirts in plain, solid colours of black, white,
red, blue and gold, which Morikawa said represented the nature
of the phoenix.
"There's also the idea that the phoenix contains within
itself both the male and the female, so we took this concept of
fusion for the collection," Morikawa told reporters.
Asian influences came to the fore on Sunday as well as
Mongolian designer Ariunaa Surenjav mixed modern designs with
traditional raised forms on the shoulders and bunched sleeves.
"That part of the clothing design where the material goes up
on the shoulder ... comes from the tradition in old Mongolia,
where the local people who were noble and respected had that
design," said Surenjav.
A NOD TO CHINA?
Although Morikawa said taking a Chinese title for the
collection was just a reference to Chinese mythology and not a
nod to the huge potential Chinese market, other designers were
more open about their goals.
Conny Groenewegen, a Dutch designer who led off the runway
on Sunday with clothing heavily influenced by Japanese
designers, said her ambitions in Asia do not end with Japan.
"I would be very much interested to visit Shanghai and
present my work over there, because I think that it is moving
very fast," she told Reuters. "It's like a big youth culture
over there and it has also a big, very rich history."
Although growth in China slowed last year, Bain is still
forecasting growth of 4-6 percent a year for the global luxury
market through 2015, after growth of 10 percent in 2012 to about
$280 billion, largely driven by Chinese consumers.
With 1.3 billion consumers, many with a strong inclination
for expensive brands that scream status, China remains a driving
force in the luxury market.
Japan Fashion Week continues until March 24 with names such
as Vivienne Tam and Hiroko Koshino also taking part.
(Additional reporting by Mariko Lochridge, Editing by Belinda