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Juun.J AW16
Backstage at Juun.J AW16Photography Antonio Giacometti

Juun.J presents androgynous offering at Pitti Uomo

Genderlessness, futurism and the work of Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama – we dissect the themes of Juun.J AW16

Pitti Immagine have a certain knack for selecting guest designers who tie in with whatever conversation is happening in fashion at that point in time. Previously, the seasonal menswear trade shows in Florence have hosted Hood by Air just as the genderless discourse came into focus on the runways, and last season, they invited Thomas Tait, a designer working deftly around current topics like fashion’s incessant need for speed and its rapidly dwindling attention span.

This week, it was Juun.J who flew in as the menswear guest designer, a fitting choice as his South Korean homeland is currently emerging as a major consumer and also producer of fashion, not least thanks to Juun.J himself. The gloomy, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi-esque mood that developed in his collection also seemed quite in tune with the current political climate, where doomsday predictions are everywhere in the media.

But instead of envisioning the end of the world, Juun.J explained backstage that he wanted to think of the aftermath of a chaotic world in terms of what new visual language will flourish from it – among that, a blurring of gender-typical expressions. Here are three themes we took away from Juun.J’s show as it played out under Stazione Leopolda’s semi-derelict arches.

HAJIME SORAYAMA’S ANALOGUE ROBOTS

For the finale, Juun.J sent out massive, enveloping Italian shearling aviators with back motifs by the Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama, whose work re-imagines the classic pin-up as a sensual robot – the ultimate hardbody. “Back in the eighties while I was studying fine arts Hajime Sorayama was my hero. I respect him so much. It’s just a dream come true to work with him now, basically. He was and still is my hero,” Juun.J said after the show, explaining how he’s drawn to Sorayama’s “very analogue” way of working entirely by hand but creating these futuristic robot shapes that speak very much of technological advancement.

GENDERLESS

Motocross garments and long, skirt-like silhouettes were embossed with words like ‘Genderless’, ‘Genreless’ and ‘Limitless’. “The collection is titled ‘Less’ and I wanted to show a collection without any limits,” Juun.J said, pointing to the tough outerwear inked with Sorayama’s pastels. “I love Sorayama’s works because he expresses sexy, feminine women with a metallic touch. The robots could be seen as sexy female with touch of masculinity, and this represents one of my concepts this season, genderless.” It was perhaps also a nod to South Korea’s flourishing menswear scene. “At home, the menswear market is getting much bigger than the womenswear market. How men dress is becoming very provocative, very bold and forward.”  

DON’T FEAR THE FUTURE

There was an element of the futuristic to Juun.J’s pieces, in the Dark Avenger coats and the semi-apocalyptic set, and it turned out his starting point had been imagining people “living in the remnants of a post-chaotic city.” Considering the current state of the world, it’s hardly surprising that designers are thinking along those lines, perhaps even more so if North Korea’s in your back garden. Was it in any way a response to the political climate? “Anything could happen in the world, right? But I’m trying to deliver the message that people living in a post-chaotic city will still look forward to what's coming with hope.”