To view the world through Junko Shimada's eyes is to view it through a lense tinted with poetic intent. As guests filed into the Jeu de Paume, they were immersed in the blue fluorescence of tubes. Denizens of the "World of Silence" that inspired the Japanese-born, Paris-based designer, jelly fish and strings of algae, colorful fish and shivering corals, their essence captured in cloth, hung mid-air around a tinkling column of glass sardines by artist Marcoville.
After reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Shimada invented her own world, populated with creatures of cloth that borrowed elements from their inspirations of the animal kingdom. Dotted prints in variegated sizes figured octopus tentacles, should they be finger-printed in red ink. It had something of the obsessive dotted patterns of Yayoi Kusama, and looked terrific as a blouse dress, or a long-sleeved top. Large fishscales cut in leather on simple shapes made for silhouettes that could be imagined on firm land. A net dress, embroidered with round pearls, was just the kind of thing to give a lady-like update to the overlay pop-overs seen on other runways this season. In the bluish light of the presentation, it was hard to fully make out colors, but even so, they had a summery appeal.
An artist with an applied medium that needs renewed season after season, Shimada showed that although she may swim alone in her own current, she is certainly aware of how the tides are turning around her. Even for those not in tune with her particular aesthetic can admit that although the intentions were anchored in the lyrical, the outcome was a fresh-enough catch of the day.