“A lamentation for the sorrow in the world today / And a feeling of wanting to stand together.” So disclosed the press notes for the return of Comme des Garçons to Paris. Rei Kawakubo is back. And trust Kawakubo to lean against the prevailing winds, then transport us further and in fewer looks because of it. Last season, as Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, fashionland scrambled to be somber, doffing the cap. This season, as that invasion and many other frightening geopolitical scenarios rumble on, normal escapist service has been resumed. But this was anti-fashion. Kawakubo’s process is personal and private: The design and its agenda is her business. Here there were perhaps a few readable clues in a collection whose looks were abstractedly sculptural. The models were their podiums. Was look 4 a worn egg cup or a woman inverted? Was look 16 a flowery doughnut or an ironically framed metaphysical void? But you might say something else entirely about these worn impressions. The only thing we’d all agree upon is that this was not conventional clothing. The level of fabric research was intense and heightened; slickly sheeny lacquered lace and sugary-sweet, color-heaped floral jacquards. On some looks you could see the fossilized traces of “normal” pieces – a biker here, a gown there – but all were distended and distorted and blown up or reduced via twists and aggregations of imagination. Some of the models wore headpieces in folded card flowers or apparently hodgepodge steampunk-ish assemblages, half-helmet, half-crown. Created under a briefing by Gary Card and Valériane Venance, these looked to resemble virgin crants, the maiden’s garlands in which young, prematurely deceased women were buried in pre-Reformation England. They were chilling.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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