It can be extremely hard and maybe almost impossible to reinvent a theme that in fashion has been done and redone far too many times.
Take punk, for example: the great rebel revolution has rarely been out of fashion and when a designer mentions punk as an inspiration, nightmares of red tartans and safety pins immediately conjure up in the minds of bored critics.
Yet Junya Watanabe has always had a passion for turning things around and radically reinvent them in unique ways.
For his A/W 17 collection, showcased during Paris Fashion Week, he continued revisiting punk, a theme he had picked also for his previous collection. Yet, while his S/S 17 designs heavily relied on stunning and aggressively delicate organza spikes, in this case he moved form his Anglophilia and his roots.
His first collection was indeed created from bits and pieces of curtains, sofa covers and men's tweed coats from flea markets in London. So this collection was a journey to the past for him interpreted as a return to the '70s and to his first designs.
The A/W 17 runway opened with a model with a synthetic red mullet reminiscent of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, with the astral sphere make-up on Bowie's forehead (originally designed by Laroche) turned into a jewel piece.
The models who followed sported instead fuchsia, purple, pink and turquoise hair in a style reminiscent of Soo Catwoman. In a way, it was all a bit glam meets punk, a mood strengthened by the soundtrack that also featured Marc Bolan of T.Rex singing "Children of the Revolution".
Red and black or yellow and black tartan kilts prevailed in the opening pieces, with some leopard patches thrown in. The first designs were based on circles – a figure that, borrowed Pierre Cardin, Watanabe has used with gusto in his previous art inspired collections, though in this case it seemed to evoke the beauty of vinyl records rather than any particular artwork.
Structure was offered by black pleather combined with wintry tartans pleated and folded, and, as the runway progressed, more geometrical figures, pointy triangles, and origami-like configurations appeared embedded in the clothes.
Most pieces were ordinary - think about jackets and coats or simple shirts - but they were broken and reconfigured, twisted into complex and experimental shapes. One long tartan skirt was kept together by a zip that spiralled around the model's body.
Elements borrowed from armours seemed to evoke Comme des Garçons' A/W 2016/17 menwear collection, but this reference could be read as a homage rather than a will to copy, since Watanabe was a pattern cutter at the Japanase company that also produces him.
Then came a section of the runway in which Watanabe played at savaging sofas and curtains and collaging them together: the best results were achieved in a beige raincoat, while purple paisleys transformed a short coat from a punk relic into an elegant piece and a long skirt incorporated a mix of black, sequinned and coloured circles.
The patchworked pieces obviously looked more wearable than Watanabe's more experimental geometries, even though they still retained his penchant for rebellion in their combination of clashing patterns such as tartan and animal prints.
Most looks were accompanied by fishnet tights and solid boots or creeper style shoes (the boots were a collaboration with Tricker's, the traditional English company) and accessorised with studded jewellery pieces.
T-shirts with a print of the iconic "Union High Back" chair by London-based luxury furniture brand Jimmie Martin (one T-shirt was donned by a model with A Clockwork Orange make-up but with a top hat instead of a bowler hat...), confirmed Watanabe's interior design inspiration.
This was actually the disappointing part of the collection: while punk and rebellion resonate with the current global mood of rage, chaos and confusion, the Union Jack does not evoke "Anarchy in the UK" feelings, but the Brexit ghost.
So while the hybrid "punk-meets-structural geometry and advanced mathematics" pieces had a compelling beauty about them, and the biker jackets and coats combining brocade and chintzy sofas had great selling potential, the Union Jack looks were a faux pas, proving that, in our times, science and a geometrical techno twist on the future are safer grounds than national flags.