You don’t need a PhD in Japanese cultural studies to appreciate the new lingerie collection from The Lake & Stars, but it wouldn’t hurt.
The trend-allergic New York label borrows style cues from campy Japanese cult movies, anime and video-game avatars for its Fall 2012 collection. But you won’t find any Sailor Moon outifts here: these inner-outerwear pieces look like costumes for a new generation of battle-ready woman-warriors. Cute ones.
Designers Nikki Dekker and Maayan Zilberman are unrivaled when it comes to creating hip fashion uniforms for the culturally hyper-literate. But you can also skip right past all the allusions, footnotes and subtext that accompany each Lake & Stars collection and appreciate these pieces for what they are: strikingly original, fashion-forward, multi-functional underwear styles for private or public display, your choice.
And for devotees of this label (and there are many), here’s some huge news: the new collection includes several dresses, skirts and tailored tops that are meant to complement TL&S undies. It’s not quite the full ready-to-wear collection that so many people keep hoping for, but it’s a great start — and maybe a hint of what’s to come?
Despite its rather obscure origins, the new collection fits The Lake & Stars‘ well-established pattern of creating assertive, statement-making looks that manage to be both sexy and ever-so-slightly intimidating at the same time.
This time, that look was inspired by a kind of female role model that shows up repeatedly in Japanese cinema: the innocent, kawaii young heroine who transforms into a ferocious fighting machine and ends up leading a girl-fight against her oppressors.
North American audiences will recognize that stereotype from the character of Go-Go in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill (Vol. 1) — the sweetheart schoolgirl who turns into an almost unstoppable warrior. We don’t really have an equivalent stereotype in Western culture (although Sucker Punch tried) but it’s ubiquitous in Japan, where sex appeal and fighting prowess are two sides of the same blade.
Specifically, The Lake & Stars found their inspiration in the 1970 haunted house thriller Hausu (top photo above), and the 2000 fightfest Battle Royale (second photo), which also inspired the schoolgirl-army fight scene in Kill Bill and whose plot is an obvious antecedent to The Hunger Games.
In addition, the designers cite the more masculine heroines in combat-centric video games like Metal Gear Solid and Battlefield 3 among their sources.
“We … found strength this season in our Japanese avatars leading a youth revolution,” the designers wrote on their blog today. “The collection offers a relaxed take on a harder, more combative approach to femininity.”
What does that mean when it comes to lingerie styles? It means perforated microfiber and powermesh bodies and bra tops embroidered with contrasting Chantilly lace and floral jacquard; dramatic cutouts and surprisingly soft silhouettes; and colors ranging from bold blacks and crimson to a gentle caramel. Put all that together and you’ll see the interplay between the conventionally feminine and the righteously badass that The Lake & Stars is aiming for.
If it all sounds too geeky to be appealing, don’t worry. The Lake & Stars is still a fashion label first and foremost; you won’t find any titanium breastplates or marine fatigues among these nouveau superhero styles.
On the other hand, any one of these pieces could make you the best-dressed fangirl at Comic-Con.
Here are some shots from the new TL&S lookbook. You’ll have lots of fun figuring out what’s going on in the backgrounds! The RTW pieces are at the bottom, so prepare yourself for some serious gushing