TOKYO – Known for looking at his fashion as extensions of his conceptual art, Japanese label Anrealage’s creative mind, Morinaga Kunihiko, once again set tongues wagging when he sent a mix of technology and fashion down the runway for his Spring Summer 2014 collection.

Held on the third day of Japan Fashion Week, the Anrealage SS14 show was always going to draw the crowds; already tipped by international fashion bloggers Tommy Ton and Susie Bubble as “one to watch”, it was no surprise to see them both sitting front row for the show.

Opening looks from Anrealage Spring Summer 2013 collction. Images: Wesley Kow

They were sitting there for quite some time. The combination of technology and clothing was always going to be tricky, and the delay of almost an hour was, perhaps in some ways, not unexpected – that is if one was aware that this is what was going on.

Still, the loyal crowd of fashionistas and Anrealage fans waiting fairly patiently for the show to begin. When it finally did begin the designer sent out a series of black and white tailored ensembles, echoing the bold monochrome stripes on the raised runway.

What is often forgotten about Morinaga-San’s work is that he is just as capable of producing extremely wearable clothing, as he is of creating a fashion spectacle.

While the covered faces were entirely too reminiscent of the recent Maison Martin Margiela Autumn 2013 couture show – there is being “inspired by” and then there is “copying” – the looks themselves were neat examples of monochrome used to good effect via stripes of varying widths, windowpane checks of various sizes, and an interesting chequerboard created from a combination of colour and transparency.

The designer called the collection “Size” which could refer to both the variation in prints, the “blowing out” of traditional shapes like an shirt expanded into a long, flowing gown, or – as was later revealed – to the manipulation of length and volume.

Second series of looks from Anrealage Spring Summer 2013 collction. Images: Wesley Kow

After the first series of monochrome looks walked the runway the lights dimmed and a second group arrived; less successful than the opening looks, the focus on transparency was expanded into complete pieces in a stiffened organza worn over pale blue separates.

The addition of “childish” pieces like skater skirts, sailor dresses and smocked dresses seemed entirely removed from the beginning of the collection; these were followed by a couple of looks that were an uneasy mix of “working girl” and “backpacker”?

Moving into more ordinary shapes, the addition of pale mint green and yellow did little to tie the pieces together; the variation in “size” was gone, these were just ordinary capri pants with button-through shirts and loose jackets, or a riff on wide-legged pants and cropped jackets. The odd organza overshirt remained, and there were a few stripes, but basically this entire series didn’t make much sense in conjunction with the strong opening looks.

Once again the room fell dark and the music changed. As the lights went back up guests were greeted by “three little girls” in shapeless black smocks. 

Walking halfway down the runway, the girls stopped across the space and as a spotlight shone were slowly raised into the air on a haudraulic platform. The technological part of the show had begun.

anrealage ss14 at japan fashion week TRANSFORMER BEFOREAnrealage ss14 at japan fashion week TRANSFORMER AFTER
Transformer dresses at Anrealage Spring Summer 2013 collction. Images: Wesley Kow

As the platform rose, so, too did the girls’ dresses. Yes, for Anrealage SS14 you too can have a dress that can shorten itself while you stand there. The ruching effect of the technology – at this stage the “how” remains mostly a mystery as there are yet to be any press releases available in English but there was mention of fine wiring and electric charges – actually created some lovely, draping and folding effects.

Although one of the dresses really did seem to have a mind of its own, as that of the middle girl continued to rise until it was just short of showing the world her knickers; something she was painfully aware of as she tried to surreptitiously tug it back down, much to the enjoyment of the crowd.

Poor thing; I suspect this could well be her first, and last, appearance on a runway.

The platform descended and the girls made their way off the runway, replaced by more models wearing more self-creating garments. Looks that had previously been seen as inert jackets, dresses and coats, now started to morph from straight-line volume to ruched, folded, draped and puffed items.


There were, however, a few too many of them. Seen it once, seen it all, perhaps? Yes, this was clever use of technology, but it wasn’t exactly new – Hussein Chalayan has been creating much more spectacular “transformer” dresses as far back as 2007, after all.

Anrealage ss14 at japan fashion week TRANSFORMER 1Transformer dresses at Anrealage Spring Summer 2013 collction. Images: Wesley Kow

Even Chalayan’s most recent Spring Summer 2014 collection featured his “transforming” clothes, this time in much more wearable versions that morph from a short day dress to differently coloured long gown and all with the pull of a single tie; there are no issues with the dress going somewhere you don’t want it with Chalayan pieces.

While I laud Morinaga-San for doing something completely different to other Japanese designers, and he is certain to have a strong philosophical reason behind the movement and the use of technology, there is a fine line between being inspired by another designer and blatantly copying someone’s concept.

Unfortunately for the Anrealage SS14 collection the very fine line became rather blurred.

Morinaga-San’s previous examinations of art as fashion have been much more successful; and much more original. The day-glo 3D wirework “cage” dresses of SS13 and his “pixelated” 3D pieces from AW13 were much more original.

As a wearer, and lover, of fashion, what I feel most disappointed about is that more attention will be given to Morinaga-San’s “copying”, than to the beautifully constructed and well-thought-out pieces that opened the show.

As a fashion label there is nothing intrinsically wrong with producing wearable, but thought-provoking garments. After all, that’s what fashion is all about.

The Anrealage Spring Summer 2014 runway show was held on October 16, 2013, as part of Japan Fashion Week. For more information about Anrealage, go to For more information about Japan Fashion Week, go to; follow it on Facebook at and on Twitter at @jfw_official