When describing Yasuko Furuta’s work at Toga, it’s easy to end up speaking in contradictions. The clothes are somehow playful but studied, refined but witty, wildly eclectic yet firmly cohesive. “Hoops, bouncing, swinging,” came the typically gnomic quote from Furuta this season, placing an emphasis on fun and immediacy. The show notes mentioned Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing,)” which you could easily imagine the party-ready, swishy skirt trims of faux goat hair and sequins rustling to on a Saturday night.
As always, though, it was Furuta’s imaginative hybridized garments that charmed most. There were plenty of delightfully Frankensteinian fusions at play here: the front fascia of a camel-colored blazer sliced at the sides, so that the sleeves of a thick wool knit emerged from underneath; or in something of a direct reverse, a slinky knit dress with the hems of a blazer peeping out underneath. A super-stretch polyester with lamé jacquard floral details came as a sculptural, voluminous mini dress, as well as in a clingier iteration that featured the same undulating drop skirts as before. The raw edges and cut-out sections carried a whisper of last season’s nod to the sculptor Gordon Matta-Clark with their interest in void spaces, albeit this time with less intellectualizing and a greater emphasis on wearability.
While this season’s accompanying film, directed by the auteur fashion photographer Johnny Dufort, effectively conveyed the off-kilter spirit of Furuta’s distinctive design philosophy, her clothes really benefit from being seen in a showroom setting. Going through her pieces on the rack, the quality and heft of the clothes is seriously impressive, as are the wealth of playful details that reveal themselves the closer you look. More strongly than ever this season, there was a palpable feeling that these are clothes that a certain kind of woman—smart, spirited, and willing to experiment—really wants to wear. As Furuta celebrates her 25th year in business with Toga later this year, she only continues to go from strength to strength.