Rei Kawakubo’s spring-summer 2019 seemed to be opening a new chapter, but then it appeared to be much more intimate and internal than one might have thought. The Comme Des Garçons designer stopped her short (but one of the most memorable during Paris fashion week), abstract, ‘no clothes’ shows after ten seasons, and returned to bigger line-ups that consist of ready-to-wear (or rather hints of ready-to-wear). But as usual with Kawakubo, nothing is that simple. “I felt this approach was no longer new, and I looked for what is new, what is new. But I could not find it,” went the pre-show statement. “What I thought of in the end was a profoundly internal approach… about what’s deep inside.” This was the season’s most deep and profound collection. It was about a woman, and women in general. Especially, about women today, about all the limitations, pains and struggles. Few models had heavy chains strapped beneath their tattoo-like, second-skin dresses. Others wore tailored jackets with ‘cut out’ shoulders, as if somehow violently dissected their bodies.
Comme Des Garçons, ‘Lumps and Bumbs’, autumn-winter 1997.
Remember the ‘Lumps and Bumps’ collection? Kawakubo seemed to refer to it. But this time, the shapes were more gentle, natural. Pregnancy bellies-like protrusions stack out from tweedy blazers and fluffy, black dresses. Some were printed with Comme Des Garçons logo, suggesting Kawakubo’s perception of her huge brand, which consists of a number of divisions and all the Dover Street Market Store, as of her child she has to nurture and protect. The grey hair, supplied by Julien d’Ys, spark conversations on age and self-acceptance. To create, and then publicly present, something so personal, disturbing, yet darkly beautiful, requires true power from the inside. It’s more than impressive to see how Kawakubo pushes her limits every season and sends out so many emotions through the medium of fashion (I mean her multi-faceted idea of fashion, not fashion that’s repeated by the rest). Truly moving.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.