Paris hails fashion week debut by Cyclas, Jarel Zhang
It isn’t easy when your show slot is on the fashion week’s last day, between Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Yet Cyclas and Jarel Zhang’s Parisian catwalk debuts on Tuesday were a success. Both labels were launched in 2016. The first, by Japanese designer Keiko Onose, unveiled a collection full of sophisticated, contemporary looks. While the other, founded by the eponymous Chinese designer, played with a futuristic streetwear register. Both Onose and Zhang know Paris well, having already presented their collections in the French capital in previous seasons. Yet, on both occasions, a degree of tension could be perceived backstage.
Cyclas: sophisticated, timeless fashion
Cyclas created an ideal wardrobe of pared-down, timeless essentials for busy women who love feeling elegant in every occasion. It features everything they need to be both cool and comfy, from cosy sweaters to check shirts, flesh-coloured leather tops, flowing silk trousers with a frontal slit on the lower leg and pretty white poplin cotton blouses with side slits, the same as the jacquard pullovers whose long sleeves end up in a ribbon. Also, some superb woollen coats with no buttons, cinched at the waist with kimono sashes.
Onose, who worked for a long time as fashion buyer, put together a smart collection in which each item is a little special, but can also combine with all the others to spawn myriad looks. A white top with smooth curves, rounded volumes and gathered cuffs slips over a pleated wrapper and trousers. A gilet, furry on one side and made of knitted wool on the other, fits just as well with casual trousers as with a more classic skirt.
The colour palette is neutral yet illuminated by flashes of colour - lime green, cobalt blue, ruby and violet - provided by comfortable corduroy trousers, bodycon knitwear and midi skirts. For an evening out, Cyclas created a long houndstooth lurex dress. A cocooning mood floats around the collection, which features several eco-fur items, including cosy pumps and sock-shoes.
In terms of cuts, choice of materials, finishes and details, Onose is always spot-on. After studying economics at Tokyo’s Keio university, she trained at the Bunka Fashion School in the Japanese capital. She started her career as assistant with a fashion consulting firm before joining United Arrows, where she worked for 13 years, eventually as womenswear purchasing director.
In 2007, Onose founded multibrand retailer The Secretcloset, specialised in luxury designer fashion and operating five stores in Japan. She also established The Secretcloset’s own fashion label, before going solo with Cyclas in 2016. Outside Japan, Cyclas is distributed in New York at Bergdorf Goodman, in Chicago and in South Korea.
Jarel Zhang: pop and futuristic
From ultra-feminine Japanese minimalism, the scene shifts to a predominantly unisex post-apocalyptic world. Jarel Zhang’s world is indeed highly graphic, with generous silhouettes and vivid colours, and with outerwear playing a starring role.
Anoraks take on new, oversize shapes, transformed through clever tricks with laces and buttons into maxi-overcoats, some in striking canary yellow, with a surfeit of zips and large oval pockets, others looking like jackets loosened by washing, stretching down to the ground, with three buttons and a miniature collar. Electric blue cotton jackets overflow with buckled straps. Sweaters in yellow neoprene, dubbed ‘space cotton’ by Zhang, are decorated with blue geometric pockets. Not to mention a series of gigantic down jackets.
As with the previous collection, Zhang, 28, seems to be obsessed with a winter sport theme, as shown in this Autumn/Winter 2019-20 collection by the ski boots worn by some of the models and the ubiquitous goose down, which Zhang uses in a variety of ways. He does indeed love working with textures and materials, down in particular.
Stitched like a thin-stripped quilted piece, an overcoat/down jacket looks like a carapace. A burgeoning, shiny black sport jacket seems like a cross between a bomber jacket and a suit of armour. Elsewhere, a down jacket morphs into a long, zipped gilet, or is tacked on at the bottom of a nylon and wool garment. A transparent plastic armband slipped over the sleeve of a jacket is filled with white down. Down jackets are also featured in hybrid items, for example in an ultra-shiny version combined with mat material.
Zhang was born in China’s Zhejiang province, near Shanghai, where he based his design studio and where his collections are produced. He studied in the UK, and has a degree from Northumbria University and a Master in textile design from the Chelsea College of Art and Design. His label is distributed chiefly via four stores in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and New York.
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