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Junya Watanabe (born Tokyo 1961) is the much-feted protégé of Rei Kawakubo. Graduating from Bunka Fashion College in 1984, he immediately joined Comme des Garçons as a pattern cutter. By 1987 he was designing their Tricot line. He presented his first solo collection in 1992 at the Tokyo collections and a year later showed at Paris Fashion Week. Despite an obvious debt to Rei Kawakubo in his work, Junya still stands apart from his mentor and friend with a vision that is indisputably his own. He has often used technical or functional fabrics, creating clothes that still retain a sense of calm and femininity. This was displayed explicitly at his autumn/winter 99 show, where the catwalk was under a constant shower of water; rain seemed to splash off the outfits, which were created in fabric by the Japanese company Toray. Despite the wealth of creativity on display, Junya’s clothes are a response to more fundamental issue: a practical answer to conditions and lifestyles. In contrast to this, his designs are also an exercise in sensitivity and, through this remarkably complex pattern cutting, his sculptural clothing presents a virtually unrivalled delicacy. In 2001, Junya presented his first menswear collection on Paris. Today, he is one of the most celebrated designers in Paris fashion.

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