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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Japan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 06-07


Rochas re-mixed

Staff writer

Among the new kids on the block at Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo this season, the only one in the menswear department was the Rochas line by Masatomo, whose elegant but unpretentiously tailored pieces are created under an agreement between Tokyo-based Renown Inc. and the venerable Paris-based Rochas.

News photo
Sketches by Masatomo (below left) show his vision for a new menswear line for the venerable Rochas brand, including a black, double-breasted suit like this. ILLUSTRATIONS COURTESY OF MASATOMO

Masatomo, aka Rynshu Hashimoto, is well known at the Paris men's collections, where he has been showing his Masatomo line twice a year since 1992.

His is the first men's line for the womenswear and fragrances Rochas label since it was established in Paris in 1924 by Marcel Rochas, and is clean-cut while at the same time very easy to wear.

Gold-tinted jeans

As might be expected from a Japanese designer, the 54-year-old Masatomo works with a mostly black palette, but he has also added navy blue, dark brown, charcoal gray, ivory and cream to his spectrum. To add a touch of luxury to daywear, Rochas has gold-tinted navy jeans and jackets, while some striped knitwear inspired by French sailors' uniforms have the Rochas logo emblazoned across the front or back in sparkling rhinestones.

Jackets are double-breasted with six buttons, or, to give them an updated look, one or two buttons. Most are also fitted, for a sharper silhouette.

Overall, the lines are generally slim, but Masatomo experiments with two types of pants: wide (with 26-cm cuffs) and close-fitting.

News photo News photo

For something very casual, Masatomo pairs fitted black and gray camouflage trousers with a black velvet jacket, and for cold winter days, he's got snug quilted parka jackets -- in black, of course -- with fur trimmed hoods.

Accessories were thin on the ground, with the only one of note being a very narrow fur-and-metallic "stole" which was draped around the neck several times.

"This is the debut of the men's line for Rochas," Masatomo said after the show. "There has never been a men's line at this house before."

The brand, renowned for its women's couture, is also known for several fragrances, among them Byzance, Mouche (named after Rochas's cat) and Madame Rochas. Recently, however, under the design leadership of the young Belgian star Olivier Theyskens since 2003, Rochas womenswear has enjoyed critical acclaim for its return to its founder's original concept of "conservative style."

If his Tokyo showing is any indicator, Masatomo may be set to do the same for the "Rochas man" here as well.

Related stories on Japan Fashion Week:
Japan Fashion Weep

Virtual retailers forge fortunes with fashion

Thoughts and images from fashionistas

Half a century of fine memories made from an impeccable 'fusion'

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