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John Lawrence Sullivan SS21

The underground rises in Arashi Yanagawa’s new collection.

An alluring feature of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe’s work is the way he elevated subcultures to high art. Even when he shot R-rated content like S&M, his photos are classically beautiful because he applied traditional aesthetics of light, shadow, composition and form to his risqué subjects.


Something similar could be said about Arashi Yanagawa’s SS21 collection for his Tokyo-based brand, John Lawrence Sullivan. With lots of leather looks and barbell piercings punctuating garments with fascinating edge, it overtly radiates an underground aura. However, with his immaculate tailoring, it’s extremely wearable and verges on classic, even if he plays with silhouettes slightly. You see he was inspired by Mapplethorpe not only with the grey-scale color palette and black-and-white-bordered portraits in the look book, but also with that special ability to challenge philosophies around classical beauty by raising subcultures to higher realms.