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Once Upon a Time in Anarchy

Julius SS2011
Ontological anarchism After goth_ik (FW10), neurbanvlker (SS10), canon #2 protection_ism (FW09), canon # possessed (ss09), japanese designer Tatsuro Horikawa is back with a spring summer collection named Chaos ; ontological anarchism, which is his 5th collection to take place in Paris Fashion week (even if the brand dates from 2001). Ontological anarchy is a concept by Hakim Bey, an American writer (his true name is Peter Lamborn Wilson) whose most famous work is The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism (1991). In this book, Bey argues that chaos is primordial, chaos is life, and that, on the contrary, the vision of the world as an ordered whole (a very Ancient Greek viewpoint) is a sad illusion and a bad starting point to build a civilization. Despite the efforts of the states and other rules-makers to lock human beings in so-called legitimate institutions and natural normative frameworks, chaos never died, and free individual moves are still possible. It's about time, then, to celebrate the dawn of the main established values and rules, and to "wake up, and create our own day even in the shadow of the State, that pustulant giant who sleeps, and whose dreams of Order metastatize as spasms of spectacular violence" ('Ontological Anarchy in a Nutshell', 1993). At the core of this nietzschean "new day" there will be passion, as 'the only force significant enough to facilitate our act of creation seems to be desire', a nomad lifestyle, poetic terrorism acts merging art and crime (i.e. piracy, subversion), and new values expressing abundance (and not scarcity, as those of capitalism, which claims to produce Order by means of the reproduction of desire, [and] in fact originates in the production of scarcity, and can only reproduce itself in unfulfillment, negation, and alienation). The social life is accordingly based on this precedence of desire and is no longer defined as an organized totality but as a haphazard network of local attractions (There is no Absolute Category, no Ego, no Societybut only a chaotically complex web of relationand the "Strange Attractor", attraction itself, which evokes resonances and patterns in the flow of becoming.). The global Revolution wont arise from institutions, but from a game of free spirits, i.e. temporary associations of co-conspirators united in pirate happenings.

Bey and the whole Temporary Autonomous Zone (TAZ) / Ontological Anarchy project has been a source of inspiration to the cyberpunk trend (Bruce Sterling for example), and to the rave subculture. TAZs collective configurations without rules, driven by passion and attraction- are embodied by various groups at various historical stages, from religious communities to hackers groups, or from the XVIIIth century Libertalia to nineties East-Berlin squats.






It is not really a surprise to find out that Bey occupies a place in Horikawas referential landscape: first, Julius is more in Horikawas mind a TAZ that emerged from his interests and connections in the underground music and visual arts, than a fashion brand targeting institutional recognition. And of course, from an aesthetic standpoint, Julius is obviously influenced by cyberpunk and by zen. It has often been said of Julius aesthetics that it is an ambivalent aesthetics, with two opposite poles. The first pole lets say the dystopian one- is a strong industrial punk component: dressed in black or in dark tones, shrinkwrapped in fitted silhouettes, in love with destroyed textures, aged leathers, and rusted metallic zips, the Julius soldier is ready for post-nuclear survival. The other pole lets say the zen one- is mostly derived from the traditional Buddhist robe: drapery is the crux of this second Julius silhouette, that features a wider and lighter range of colors (from full white to yellow, blood red, light grey and some blue), as well as soft and noble fabrics like blends of cotton, cashmere, rayon or silk. So, it appears at first sight that the two major components of Juliuss style are simply worlds apart: the darkness (of the cyberpunk look) versus with the light (of the draped silhouettes), tight fits versus body concealment, postapocalyptic future versus millenary tradition

Is there a common denominator? Or is it just once again chaos that drives inspiration? If you look at the recent collections, the Fall Winter 2009 presentation was very post-punk oriented, with extra tight leathers, destroyed waxed denims, cargo pants and combat boots, whereas Spring Summer 2010, mostly made of all-white long drapery paired with leather sandals,appeared to be a meditative tribute to Buddhist monks outfits.

FW09 and SS10 together form a sharp contrast that one could account for along the following lines: the move from darkness to light is nothing but a cyclic return to the roots of civilization when the end of the world has already occurred. The idea that, after a massive destruction of the Modern World, the Ancient will reappear, is quite widespread in the Japanese cyberpunk corpus (take for example in Otomos Akira the rise of the Miyako temple which serves as a refugees asylum for the people of a ravaged Neo-Tokyo). The SS11 show

Considering the venue, the hour and the soundtrack of the runaway, one could foresee a Julius SS11 show in the vein of the SS10 one. The show took place at 12am on a sunny day at the Espace Commines, a pristine all-white space with much light, and the music was reminiscent of quiet old Buddhist instrumental rhythms. It was not the case: very few drapes with the exception of some tied tops and sleeveless long overcoats (always in raw materials), and no sandal.Chaos ; ontological anarchism was all about leather jackets, cropped cargo pants, multi-layered denim outfits, combat boots with huge soles, and leather straps everywhere. The most recurrent outfit was this composition of a leather jacket (worn closed most often), cropped pants, and heavy boots:

Another leitmotiv was multi-layered denim outfit (denim jackets, denim jeans, denim skirts and denim straps), in a wide and subtle range of non-colors, from the anthracite of the first jeans to pearl and steel grey.

Full black outfits were part of the show as well: they were possibly the most aggressive silhouettes, especially those which included a tailored piece (because of the clash between formality and ruggedness).





So, was Julius SS11 a pure industrial punk collection? Well, its a bit more complicated than that. Actually, Chaos ; ontological anarchism is very close in spirit of the go_thik (FW10) collection. Both collections demonstrate the same move in Horikawas research. In these collections, the so-called oxymoronic dystopian and zen styles converge in a new balance. How is this balance defined? By a series of local formal modifications to the Julius key pieces. We give three examples: 1. the leather jackets are longer and (slightly) roomier than before: they used to be skin tight and very short, they now have long sleeves and go lower at the waist. The silhouette is more relaxed, more fluid, and the surface of the leathers creases a little.

from FW10

Fall Winter 2010

This leather drape effect is enhanced on the new jacket design with a cowl neck that is literally leather drapery. A typical feature of the zen aesthetics is thus transposed on the key element of the cyberpunk outfit.

Spring Summer 2011

2. A similar evolution can be noticed for the denims. Denims appear now as a true noble fabric: the beautiful blue/grey shades convey an airy immaterial feeling to them, emphasized by the fabrics softness.

At the same time, this preciosity is counterbalanced by the destroyed and waxed treatments inherited from the grunge side of Julius. And, as for the leathers, the denim pieces, arranged in multi-layered outfits, form a drape over the body instead of the usual constriction caused by the ultra-narrow fits: silhouettes are less edgy and more flowing.

Spring Summer 2011

Fall Winter 2010

3. At the opposite, the light and soft draped pieces appear in a restrictive context: they are locked under a leather camisole (FW10), or a leather vest/holster combo (SS11), or by leather belts, or maintained by an intrinsic system of knotted straps that keep the drape close to the body, for an overall much structured silhouette. This is the converse evolution of evolutions 1 (leathers) and 2 (denims), different means for the same end: a semi-relaxed fit, closer to the anatomical proportions, neither skintight nor wrapped, neither heavy nor light, but balanced and syncretic.

Fall Winter 2010

Spring Summer 2011

Spring Summer 2011

Spring Summer 2011

Conclusion Horikawa said Basically, all my work is trying to balance my darker interests; fetishism, Cyberpunk and industrial cultures with the lighter spiritual side of my creation the Zen and Tibetan Buddhist influence in my work which has lately grown to include the spirituality of many different cultures. (in this indispensable interview). It seems that this goal is reached in a new way, not by a mix of opposite characters, but by a deep stylistic synthesis of these characters, giving more identity and uniqueness to Juliuss clothes.
Special thanks to Marc Rushton and the whole Julius fashion week team, and to Brian C. for his careful reading of the paper.

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