One in a series on the clothes that had a moment at Paris Fashion Week:


Junya Watanabe Spring Summer 2018 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

PARIS — Happy punks.

It seems to read like an oxymoron, but perhaps it’s not. Maybe the dominant image of a punk rocker as some steely urbanite fueled by rage and subversiveness has been all wrong. Or at too narrow. Maybe punks always had some inner sunny place where they quietly revel in their joy?

If so, then designer Junya Watanabe found it — and explored it beautifully for his spring 2018 runway.


Junya Watanabe Spring Summer 2018 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Junya Watanabe Spring Summer 2018 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Junya Watanabe Spring Summer 2018 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Junya Watanabe Spring Summer 2018 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Watanabe has been enamored with punk rock in recent years, and he has expressed that fascination through collections filled with ripped tartans, spiked accessories and enough hair glue to outfit half the Parisian population with a mohawk.

But on a gray morning, at the Université Paris Descartes, there was light and joy and pleasure on the runway, along with his punkish women. Watanabe wanted to explore the idea of taking the abstract shapes that appear in nature, that are organic rather than strictly geometric, and transform them into clothes. To help in that endeavor, he turned to Marimekko, the Finnish textile company known for its chipper prints.


Junya Watanabe Spring Summer 2018 collection (Raymond Chan/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Junya Watanabe used nine different Marikmekko fabrics in his Spring Summer 2018 collection (Raymond Chan/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Junya Watanabe Spring Summer 2018 collection (Raymond Chan/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

The result was dresses, skirts and tops full of volume. They were stitched from fabrics with patterns that evoked a spirited dance captured in a single click of a camera shutter. The shapes, both the two-dimensional printed ones and the three-dimensional garments, were lyrical and inviting.

A long black-and-white skirt was paired with a white top with origami flowers spilling down the front. Long walking shorts were a storyboard of black and white hieroglyphics with splashes of pink.  The chaotic, naive drawings on the shorts were complemented by simple stripes on t-shirts. There were green camouflage-print ponchos and long skirts patterned with an impressionistic image of grass, verdant hills, nature.


Junya Watanabe Spring Summer 2018 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Junya Watanabe Spring Summer 2018 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Junya Watanabe Spring Summer 2018 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Junya Watanabe Spring Summer 2018 collection (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

All of that lyricism was paired with New Balance sneakers that were studded with silver spikes or laced with black satin ribbons. Wrists were wrapped with leather bracelets with jutting spikes. And silver spikes were laced through the models’ knotted hair.


Junya Watanabe Spring Summer 2018 collection (Raymond Chan/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Junya Watanabe Spring Summer 2018 collection (Raymond Chan/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

The combination spoke of the natural world and the man-made one, bucolic living and urban dwelling, softness and harshness, ease and tension. Watanabe managed to create a sense of breadth and expansive reach in a collection with closely defined parameters. Its reach was wide even as its point-of-view was sharply defined.


Junya Watanabe Spring Summer 2018 collection (Raymond Chan/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Watanabe’s pleasure in exploring the vast uniqueness of nature was evident. Yet his runway story could have had even more depth had his cast of models been as diverse as the natural world from which he took his inspiration. It was a lost opportunity — not because he didn’t kowtow to political correctness or attempt to reflect the global customer base of fashion — but because he could have told a fuller, more sophisticated narrative.

Watanabe’s spring 2018 collection was enchanting in myriad ways, but it missed a chance to be even more than that.

Also at Paris Fashion Week

Valentino is making incredibly glamorous anoraks, of all things. Anoraks!

The hoop skirt is back. (If Comme des Garcons has its way.)

Crocs on the runway, and other strange signs of the time in fashion

It’s like Gumby joined a utopian cult — and created the season’s most magical fashion

Chloé’s new designer came up with a fresh idea for pants, and it actually works

Lush, timeless beauty from fashion’s normal guy

Clothes that could make air travel glamorous again. Well, almost.

Sexy and sophisticated, the Saint Laurent show was just plain glorious

Dior slaps a slogan on a T-shirt and tries to pass it off as feminism

There is just no excuse for this ugly, boring fashion

Fashion wants to put on a spectacle. Can we keep sight of the clothes?