“This collection of mine is me staring back at me. It’s my portrait,” said Takeshi Kitazawa. The DressedUndressed designer had found himself figuratively looking in the mirror a lot over the past few months, and thinking about how clothes are bound to reflect the designer themselves. This season he decided to face himself full-on, creating what he called a “difficult, delicate” collection of tightly edited tailoring and base layers.
For the collection’s accompanying film, Kitazawa asked the model Reuben Chapman to read the poetic lyrics of the Velvet Underground song “Set Free,” over music that was produced by Dumb Type, an artist collective that has served as a collaborator for the past two seasons, to bewitching results. “I’ve been set free and I’ve been bound… To the memories of yesterday’s clouds…”
There’s been a marked increase in artistic sensitivity in Kitazawa’s work in recent seasons, which has lent his clothes an elegant purity that this recent bout of introspection seems to have intensified. In this new iteration, everything extraneous had been stripped away, leaving barely any styling necessary, instead using the hands to suggest a sensuality that seemed to be about how we relate to our own bodies, and the way our clothes protect, hide, enhance, and connect us.
Paying close attention to the looks yielded subtle differences. That gorgeously cut inky-black and navy tailoring is at first single-breasted then double-breasted, wool gabardine and then French moleskin. The sheer tank tops were distinct fabrics too. It was again a nod to Kitazawa’s idea of reflection—how we perceive ourselves and how we are perceived (and how we are perceived perceiving ourselves).
A more down-to-earth example of the brand’s emotional evolution is how Kitazawa has intentionally scaled back and refined the production process. He is making fewer clothes each season, but focusing on each piece much more thoughtfully, working with individual artisans in Japan rather than the mass manufacturers he once used. Only 30 or so pieces of each item will be made. “I wanted to do something more personal, rather than selling a lot of clothes,” he said.
If it wasn’t clear already from the above, Kitazawa is a very deep and emotionally intelligent designer, and appreciating the true essence of his deceptively simple clothing requires a sensitivity that for some will be too much to ask. But those who get it will get it, and when they buy the clothes—and when they in turn look in the mirror at themselves—they’ll no doubt cherish them. Isn’t that the best any designer can hope for?
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