Designer 101: Junya Watanabe



“How does the past remain in fashion without reeking of nostalgia? And by what new technological means can you reveal beauty?”

—Junya Watanabe


Japanese designer, Junya Watanabe began his career as a pattern cutter for Comme des Garçons in 1984. Watanabe’s mentor, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, has referred to him as a “co-combatant” in the “Comme des Garçons army.” Watanabe helped combat traditional representations of beauty and fashion by designing some of the most challenging and technically ingenious garments on the runway for Comme des Garçons. Watanabe is a very private figure in the fashion industry; very little is known about his personal life. He prefers to let his work to speak for itself.


“I am not interested in the mainstream.”


In 1987, Watanabe was appointed as the design director for Comme des Garçons Tricot, a knitwear line. In 1992, Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons launched with financial backing by none other than Rei Kawakubo. His menswear line debuted nearly a decade later, in 2001. It has been reported that although Kawakubo clearly supports Watanabe, she does so without any bit of creative interference. Watanabe famously stated to Vogue that he has never received praise from his mentor: “Sometimes, I would like a little more feedback. Criticism would be better than silence.”

Notable collections from Watanabe include: Spring 1996 presentation of tunics and shifts in colorful, transparent cellophane-like nylon. Vogue described this collection as “like wearing origami.”

Junya Watanabe Spring/Summer 1996

His Fall 1998 collection of melton-wool cloaks, robes and aprons were shaped and held together without the use of thread. Watanabe instead used metal hoops coiled around the body to keep the pieces together.


His Spring 2000 “Techno Couture” collection used computer shearing to create layers of nylon and polyester that look like mushroom gills and honeycomb paper.


In Spring 2002, dresses sewn out of frayed and distressed denim were sent down the runway.


In Watanabe’s world, the ever cherished icons, archetypes, and mythologies of modern culture are disfigured and re-engineered. Watanabe has stated that he is never inspired by anything in particular, nor does he design with any specific woman in mind.


“I always start from zero each season. To create an interesting form… [It’s] more a question of feeling.”


Though Watanabe’s clothes may come across as excessively conceptual on the runway, his work has proven to be equally wearable and beautiful on the street. Critics, customers and collectors alike follow his work with rapt attention. Junya Watanabe is one of few designers who remain true to their creative and conceptual vision while maintaining a high level of commercial success. Perhaps Watanabe’s mystique is what sets his work apart. Nevertheless, he continues to be one of the industry’s most prominent figures.

Editorial Love: 25A Magazine’s April 2016 Issue

Our dear friends over at 25A Magazine pulled from our exclusive luxury vintage archive for an editorial piece in their April 2016 issue. The story, “The Scent of Vintage” displays how to wear your highest fashion pieces for any occasion.


View the full editorial in 25A Magazine’s April 2016 issue!

Video Love: Rihanna’s Kiss it Better Video

Rihanna just dropped her latest music video for “Kiss it Better,” the second single off her ANTI album. This video is all about the artist and her music. Shot in black and white, the stark footage shows Rihanna alone, dancing in a Issey Miyake pin striped blazer provided by yours truly!

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For other jaw-dropping vintage luxury pieces, visit us in store or online.

And don’t miss the full video below!

Designer 101: Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent by Jeanloup Sieff, 1971


Yves Saint Laurent is born in Oran, Algeria as Yves Henri Donat Matthieu-Saint-Laurent.


Saint Laurent moves to Paris, France to study at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, the school that also trained Valentino and Karl Lagerfeld. Soon after arriving, he was introduced to Dior by the editor of French Vogue, Michel de Brunoff.


Saint Laurent becomes the haute couture designer for Dior when the designer died. He was just 21 years old.


Yves Saint Laurent founds his eponymous fashion house with partner Pierre Bergé.

Veruschka wearing the iconic Yves Saint Laurent safari jacket photographed by Franco Rubartelli for Vogue

Le Smoking Suit by Yves Saint Laurent

Rive Gauche RTW 1966


YSL creates arguably the most famous classic tuxedo suit for women, Le Smoking Suit. Throughout the ’60s and ’70s the fashion house popularizes fashion trends such as the beatnik look, safari jackets, the jumpsuit, thigh-high boots, and others. Some of the most famous collections during this time include the Pop Art, Ballet Russes and Picasso. Saint Laurent also starts mainstreaming the idea of wearing silhouettes from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. In this year he increases the desire for ready-to-wear in an attempt to democratize fashion, with Rive Gauche and a boutique of the same name.[3]

———-1980’s – 1990’s———-

The brand continues to expand with fragrances for both men and women, having launched its cosmetic line in 1978. In the 1998–1999 seasons, Alber Elbaz designed three ready-to-wear collections.


Pierre Bergé appoints Hedi Slimane as Collections and Art Director, re-launching YSL Rive Gauche.


Yves Saint Laurent shows his last ready-to-wear collection for the Rive Gauche label he had founded more than 30 years before.


Tom Ford arrives to take control at the house designing RTW, while Saint Laurent designs the haute couture collections. The brand enters the stratosphere where it remains today, covering perfume and menswear as well as womenswear.

Yves Saint Laurent holding hands with model Laetitia Casta (left) and actress Catherine Deneuve after his final runway show.


At his last show, a tearful Yves Saint Laurent takes his final bow as his long-time muse, Catherine Deneuve, sings Ma Plus Belle Histoire d’Amour. Stefano Pilati, who replaces Tom Ford in 2005, continues Yves Saint Laurent’s message that “dressing is a way of life”.


Yves Saint Laurent dies after a long period of ill health at his home in Paris on June 1, 2008. He was 71.


Hedi Slimane, Creative Director of the fashion house, announces he will revive Yves Saint Laurent’s couture line. 


Gilt Man paid us a visit at our SoHo location to get some world-class tips from our CEO and Co-Founder, Seth Weisser about investing in luxury vintage. They even shot the editorial for the upcoming What Goes Around Comes Around sale on site!

Check out the behind the scenes action below and don’t forget to shop the Gilt Man x What Goes Around Comes Around sale starting tomorrow, March 30th at 9:30pm ET!


“The allure of shopping vintage is finding something unique that suits your individual style,” says Weisser.
GILT5 “Many items have been reproduced or replicated, but nothing compares to the originals.”


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