Fairy girls and city grit at Tokyo Fashion Week

Layered chiffon tops and silky hemlines met shiny leather boots on the catwalk of the Tokyo Fashion Show this week in a blend of old-world femininity and edgy city themes.

"They are the fairies strolling through the maze of concrete," said designer Yuma Koshino of the waif-like models showcasing her "Baroque and Block" collection.

"They switch back and forth between their time of being mature women and of being girls. They are kitsch, cute and romantic."

"The story is about women in town," explained the daughter of fashion maestro Hiroko Koshino about her 2010-2011 autumn/winter collection, a fusion of hard and soft, tight and loose, and black and pastel.

"They strut around the city blocks, acting independent in this world, but they also crave the feminine, elegant touch of medieval times."

The Tokyo Collection, the highlight of the Japan Fashion Week which ended Friday, kicks off the season ahead of shows in Paris, New York and Milan.

Koshino said the "fairy girl" touches in her line-up evoke "Alice in Wonderland", but she also used elements of "optical art", the hard geometric patterns, usually black and white, that can confuse the eye.

"I wanted to try optical art. I think it's coming," she said. "It has always been around, but I wanted to use it because it looks both sharp and elegant."

At the Tokyo show, which brought together 44 Japanese fashion houses, Koshino was not the only designer to experiment with optical art.

Eri Matsui, who has long sought to fuse art and science, turned her latest stage show into a mathematical laboratory of geometric silhouettes, including a white evening dress with a pattern resembling sea anemones.

Sticking with a grittier urban noir theme was G.V.G.V. designer Mug, who said she tried to recreate the world of David Lynch's psychological thriller "Mulholland Dr" on her smoke-filled red carpet stage.

Seeking to merge chic and avant garde, defiance and elegance, her girls mixed red leather skirts with white chiffon tops.

"I wanted to create the air of an erotic womanly scent," Mug said. "I also wanted to give a touch of a Los Angeles grungy street feeling."