You might not expect a Japanese designer known for his streetwise sneakers and industrial menswear looks to mine the depths of American transcendental writer Henry David Thoreau's 1854 ode to independence, Walden, but for his Spring 2011 collection, 38-year-old Mihara Yasuhiro did just that. The Tokyo-based designer burst onto the fashion scene in 2000 when he began his ongoing partnership with Puma, during which he revitalized their shoe line with studs, metallics, and fur embellishments. In 2004, Mihara launched his own luxury menswear line and quickly established his signature: a classically tailored yet urban aesthetic-think lots of layers, treated fade prints, plaid pajama suits, and denim-waist dress pants). While Walden seems unlikely source material for Mihara, he affirms that the book's message of individuality is at the very heart of his Spring 2011 collection. "It is well known that this book is like a bible for hippies and the origin of anarchism," he explains. Mihara creates this notion of transcendentalist independence through clothes that reinvent clichéd postwar Americana motifs. In his Spring line, traditional work wear appears in the form of patchy denim, utilitarian waterproofed cargo shorts and jackets, and an assortment of updated flannel looks. Old-school collegiate prestige is portrayed in sweaters stamped with the Emory University seal and made to look torn and tattered with sporadic black embroidery. Scenes from Walden Pond itself could be said to appear in the photographic woodland prints on a dapper overcoat and jacket. But it is the tailored gray-toned blazer with a dusty American flag photo-jacquard that best typifies Mihara's skewed American patriotism. "I deliberately focus on the category of American style and destroy the images," he says. "I am not an anarchist, but I admire the person who is not controlled by anyone strongly, and this is why I made this collection."
Photos: Mihara Yasuhiro in New York, July 2010. All clothing and accessories: Mihara Yasuhiro Spring/Summer 2011 Collection. Hair Products: Redken, including Outshine 01 anti-frizz polishing milk. Hair: Peter Gray for Cutler/Redken/The Collective Shift. Makeup: Sil Bruinsma for Dior Beauty/Streeters. Special Thanks: Pier 59 Studios.