Among the most kitsch (yet at the same time most irresistible) objects you may have collected between the end of the '70s and the early '80s there were the so-called hygroscopic figurines, little statues representing animals, monuments or religious icons that changed colour with the weather.
The statues weren't actualy made with any special materials, but they were covered in a silica gel/cobalt chloride glittery varnish that reacted according to the levels of humidity.
Those ones who as kids were utterly fascinated by the magic of the statues and who were at Anrealage's runway show that took place last week at the Palais des Beaux-Art during Paris Fashion Week, must have thought they were seeing walking versions of kitsch hygroscopic figurines.
When captured on photograph the seven opening looks matched with dramatic chandelier face masks seemed to be indeed characterised by a purple/violet shade.
They looked rather simple and conventional when they came to their silhouettes, but they were covered in intricate decorative elements forming spellbinding geometrical motifs.
When they came back at the end of the show (paired with more grand masks and accessorised with different shoes), they looked white.
There was actually some chemical magic behind the designs: continuing his research about shadow and light and the possibility of mutating and transforming a garment, designer Kunihiko Morinaga added another experimental theme to his researches, the possibility of distorting the perception of reality and our memories.
The designer came up therefore with a unique collaboration with Mitsui Chemicals, developing a material called Clear Black Photochromic that becomes black under sunlight and fades to clear under fluorescent light.
The designs on the runway were embellished with more than 5,000 hand-applied parts, including buttons, disks, cubes and studs, all made with this photochromic material that darkens when exposed to UV light (backstage the designs were exposed to UV-light-emitting torches that had altered their colour right before the show).
In between there were more experimental designs and studies revolving around the light and shadow dichotomy: the most wearable ones were the trench coats, denim jackets and skirts in which the traditional structure of the garment seemed to melt into delicate transparent polyester that wasn't actually white, but sky blue when the models started walking on the runway. The colour changing technique was also applied to very feminine and romantic yet futuristic macramé shift dresses.
The entire collection was therefore based on a game of dichotomies that is intrinsic to the name of the brand: the Real/Unreal bit of the brand's name plays with opposites in the same way this collection played with colours and perceptions, with technology and artisanal techniques.
Entitled "Clear", this collection is a new collaboration for the brand with Mitsui Chemical: Anrealage worked with the company also for a presentation that took place in July at Tokyo's National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation and that focused on "echo wear".
This definition refers to clothes that can recognize the space in which the wearer moves thanks to sensors and printed circuit fabric technology that measure the distance by emitting signals and vibrating devices.
The most interesting thing about the collection remains the way in which Morinaga questioned the memories of his audience: in the fashion industry people tend to easily forget what they saw six months earlier and at times it becomes difficult to spot copies of recent designs as we have already forgotten about them.
Morinaga seemed to test people, maybe challenging the members of his audience to recognise the designs and realise that fashion is terribly limited nowadays without any innovative and experimental techniques.
The collection was launched with a teaser accompanies by a sort of poem that sounded almost prophetic and stated "We believe all is vanity/We pray all becomes clear/To see the far future," lines that invite to leave superficiality behind to finally see into a better future in which fashion, tech and crafts can seamlessly cohabit into the same wearable garment.