Radical Departures

Stairmaster: Ohya's winged coat
All Photographs by Cary Conover

Ever since Comme des Garçons unleashed its first black smock 20 or so years ago, the fashion flock has acknowledged Japan's vanguard role in the sartorial avant-garde. Late last month, the Japan Society hosted "Tokyo Fashion Forward," a runway show/performance piece featuring the frothy confections of Hiroaki Ohya and their polar opposite, survival gear from Kosuke Tsumura's hot label Final Home. The designs form two sides of the same cool coin, suggesting that we either prepare ourselves for a bleak future by dressing in newspaper-stuffed state-of-the-art survival gear, or escape into a universe populated by ghostly street angels.

Sprite night: Ohya's frothy skirt

Camo ammo: DJ Big Wiz dressed by Tsumura

Flight suit: Ohya's couture wings

Of course, when it comes to progressive style, the real genius lies in taking off from designers' suggestions and adding your own seriously wacky spin. For inspiration, check out Shoichi Aoki's Fruits (Phaidon Press, $29.95), a photo book of Japanese kids in street fashions of breathtaking invention. Or stroll over to the Kinokuniya Bookstore in Rockefeller Center (10 West 49th Street), where Japanese magazines provide the freshest of fashionable daydreams.

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