From Lady Gaga to kimonos at Japan Fashion Week

TOKYO - From green fashions by a designer who clothed Lady Gaga to a futuristic take on the traditional kimono and a street wear show that drew more than 10,000 people, Japan's Fashion Week has highlighted the edginess and variety for which Tokyo has long been known.

The spring event was cancelled last year in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami, which set off a nuclear crisis that led to power cuts, but the October event was held as scheduled, clearing the way for the current autumn/winter extravaganza.

The Tokyo Runway Show highlighted street styles, an effort to shine a spotlight on Japan's ready-to-wear brands as they also hope to cross into the international scene, in a five-hour production aimed at the country's trend-setting youth.

"I believe that with this show, Japan, as a fashion leader, has the potential to crossover internationally," said Natsuki Kato, a model and actress who strode the catwalk for the event.

Some 15,000 fans came out for the Tokyo Runway, which fell on a national holiday right in the middle of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week that runs until March 24 and featured designs for "real clothes consumers" rather than avant-garde garb.

Among the highlights was an appearance by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, who represented so-called "Harajuku" subculture street fashion, ranging from gothic to outfits that look as if they came straight out of an anime cartoon and is named after the popular Tokyo area popular with youth.

"What makes Harajuku fashion unique is how the girls choose to represent themselves with confidence in a way that's enjoyable -- not just in a 'cute' way, but with some edginess as well." Kyary Pamyu Pamyu told Reuters.

"For example, I have eyeballs and bones on my outfit. It's not just cute but a bit dark too."

KIMONOS, GREEN AND GAGA

In a nod to tradition, third generation kimono designer Jotaro Saito unveiled "Futurism," a collection he hopes will give Japan's traditional dress a modern twist.

Models shuffled along the runway in traditional sandals, and were trussed up in "obi" sashes, but fabrics featured horizontal lines, checks - even the occasional polka-dot.

"Japan has very traditional things, but the world also looks to us for subculture, like anime or computer games. A culture where the new and the classical coexist -- well, I think that's fascinating," Saito said.

Despite the emphasis on fashion, Japan's new reality of post-disaster concerns intruded.

Masanori Morikawa, who created the costume worn by Lady Gaga at the MTV Aid Japan Award 2011, introduced a "green" theme inspired by environmental concerns and the ongoing nuclear crisis at Fukushima, north of Tokyo.

Morikawa, the designer behind the self-directed label "Christian Dada," showed an autumn/winter collection entitled "Lost."

"I was moved by news such as Chernobyl and similar events, and I wanted to express through this collection the question of whether or not we have a place to return to," he said.

Models clad mainly in black walked under green lighting as if under a forest canopy. Along the runway were his trademark punk-inspired leather studs that adorned entire vests, with the new additions of body-hugging green mini dresses.

The show included a visual installation at the end featuring a bird cage that transforms into a disappearing angel -- a scene that hints at rebirth, according to Morikawa.

"I didn't want the angel wings to be in a specific direction but to show that there is a possibility to go in any direction," Morikawa said.

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