It’s been two years since Tae Ashida has been on the runway. Pre-pandemic, her shows were stately affairs where diplomats sat alongside cinema stars and musicians. That mix of luminaries from politics and entertainment spoke to Ashida’s reach and the multiple client demographics she’s designing for. In recent seasons she’s addressed the group via experimental fashion films that saw her collaborate with Japanese directors like Yasuhiko Shimizu. For this go-round, she wanted a real-world showcase for her creations. To make that happen, Ashida took over Japan’s National Stadium, a venue created specifically for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and staged an outdoor show on its indoor track.
Edging close to the 30th anniversary of her brand, Ashida’s recent work has focused on asserting her codes by centering on her essential pieces. This season that meant an exploration of the blazer, an item she selected for its connection to the office rather than telecommuting’s nebulous virtual space. The setup was carefully considered—guests were seated beneath the stadium’s Kengo Kuma–designed interlocking archways while adhering to social distancing regulation—and so were the clothes. Few put on a jacket to work from home; to make the most of a blazer, you’ve got to head outside.
Multiple incarnations of the piece made their way onto Ashida’s runway, but the lineup avoided business-casual blandness thanks to the details. There were tuxedo-esque cropped jackets adorned with oversized bows and knee-length single-breasted designs with a satiny sheen for the girls. Boys were given crisp white-on-white versions with dual textures and collars that extended into belts and classic houndstooth patterns paired with Bermuda shorts. The recurring checked pattern paired well with the collection’s standout motif, a wallpaper-worthy chinoiserie print.
As the collection’s focus shifted toward after hours, Ashida hit her stride. There are fewer events to attend, given the current state of the world, but that party deficit means every occasion takes on special significance. As such, the eveningwear was relaxed and versatile enough to be worn to low-key functions. Several looks featured touches borrowed from the boudoir; gossamer-light column dresses with lace inserts and slips with an overlay of lacework replaced ballgowns. Even the stateliest gowns were offered in gauzy fabrics whose ruffles fluttered as models made their way down that Olympic track.