Dissonance. Comme Des Garçons SS21

Paris Fashion Week felt incomplete without the Japanese avant-garde. From Tokyo, where all the Comme des Garçons family of designers have been showing, an email suggested that Rei Kawakubo has been striving to arrive at a creative resolution for designing in the midst of the existential plight that we’re all suffering. Dissonance was her theme: “The human brain always looks for harmony and logic. When logic is denied, when there is dissonance a powerful moment is created which leads you to feel an inner turmoil and tension that can lead to finding positive change and progress.” Any note of hope is gratefully received in these times of chaos. Discerned through the red light of her set – surely a signifier of the hellish state of the world, which at the same time made it hard to look at the garments in detail – her prescription for survival seemed threaded through with a playful, ironic sense of humor. Voluminous shapes, crinolines, bubbles, cloaks, and trapezoid coats came covered in plastic film. Then, what was Kawakubo up to, playing with Mickey Mouse and the Japanese Bearbrick teddy bear toy? Cutely reassuring representations of childhood innocence to cling to in our times of trouble, perhaps. The designer even messed around with the CdG heart logo, designed by Filip Pagowski back in the 1980s. The thing about Kawakubo is that her work brilliantly captures so many dissonant ideas at the same time. A phrase in her notes said she was interested in disrupting “the spirit of couture” with “illogical combinations and juxtapositions.” You sense she likes both the romance and glitter of couture and being punk with it, though – and this time, it almost felt like she’d had fun with it.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Places to Visit in Paris

Although Paris is known to be a city steeped in tradition, it is also a city generating an exciting list of shops and boutiques that sell the most gorgeous and unique selections of designers, furniture, food, flowers and pretty much anything you can imagine. Each arrondissment has its own distinct quirk and charm – so do the places that are situated all over them. Here are twelve places – some are new, some are already well-known – that I enjoyed and decided to write about in one big post. Of course, those aren’t the only ones – I’ve already mentioned some other fantastic places separately. To go back to them, just scroll a bit down on the homepage or click the “Paris” tab below this post. Now, follow me!

Ogata

Star designer-restaurateur Shinichiro Ogata, who has already been praised for his spots in Tokyo, has Paris abuzz at this hôtel particulier in the center of the Marais neighborhood. Ogata is an immense lifestyle temple meticulously styled with an insane atrium (walls whitewashed with shikkui plaster, doors decorated in copper), a boutique space (ceramics, pastries, infusions… everything’s on the right place!), a serene sabō on the ground floor (for tea ceremony – the place offers a diverse variety of tea rigorously selected according to the season: hōjicha, sencha, rare teas and seasonal infusions), a secret bar upstairs, plus a gourmet Japanese cuisine restaurant with plenty of wood and concrete details. This place is a must-visit.

16 rue Debelleyme

Comme Des Garçons & Trading Museum

Set off the Rue du Faubourg St-Honore, Comme Des Garçons’ design experience of the store begins in the courtyard through which it is reached, where glossy red panels line the windows, obscuring the view in and imposing red doors glide silently open as the customer approaches. Immediately facing is a long counter and opposite that a glossy red fibreglass skin flows the length of the shop, covering everything in its path – walls, ceiling, doors, lighting, horizontal and vertical planes – the alien wave. The fantastical red corridor leads to a brilliant white ante-chamber with a polished concrete floor where the retail is housed. Within this sanctuary-like space, garments by Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe and Kei Ninomiya hang from metal rails suspended from the ceiling and folded t-shirts sit on extruded rubber benches, presented to the customer like objects in a museum. On the other side of the courtyard you’ve got Trading Museum, CDG’s selection of labels like Simone Rocha or Molly Goddard.

54 Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré

R&Y Augousti

Ria and Youri Augousti’s flagship store in Paris was discovered by the designers back in 1997. Originally an old majestic bank, the couple fell in love with the space and iconic location. They decided that this would be the perfect space for their brand and their instincts were not wrong. Their artistic backgrounds brought them together as innovators in their field by reviving the artisanal techniques of shagreen and other exotic materials that were predominant in the Art Deco period of the 1930s. Through their mix of vintage and contemporary design, their furniture and home accessories brand were met with worldwide praise. From this they began to work closely with international interior designers, architects and celebrities to create custom pieces for their homes and projects all within keeping to the Augousti universe. Together with their designs, they as well present Patrick Coard and Kifu Paris’ works. Currently, the store carries Olivier Theyskens, the acclaimed fashion designer and recently appointed creative director at Azzaro. A longtime family friend of the Augousti House, their mutual love and appreciation for artisan craftmanship, textures, and innovative designs sparked a natural collaboration between the two brands.

103 Rue du Bac

The Broken Arm

Since Colette closed its doors a few years ago, The Broken Arm has the most unique and intriguing designer assortment in town. Here you will find S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA. by Sterling Ruby (the bag pictures above is still in my dreams!) as well as an off-beat selection of Maison Margiela, Jacquemus, Raf Simons and Prada. The staff is super friendly her and when you’re here, you feel it’s the cult fashion place of the Marais district. Next to the shop you’ve got The Broken Arm’s café that serves home-made sweets and quick lunches.

12 Rue Perrée

Lemaire

My kind of mecca. I visit Lemaire’s flagship store every single time when I’m in Paris and I’m always amazed by its heart-warming aura, great soundtrack playing and of course the designs by my favourite Christopher Lemaire and Sarah Linh Tran. The store often carries exclusive pieces that you won’t find anywhere else!

28 Rue de Poitou

Aoyama Flower Market

Aoyama Flower Market is a florist brand established in 1989, in the Aoyama area of Tokyo. The brand has never ceased to offer a lifestyle that promotes well being, accompanied by flowers and greenery. In 2015 they opened their Paris location, which is in the heart of the Left Bank and just a few steps from Le Bon Marche. Haven’t seen such beautiful bouquet compositions for a while.

96 Rue du Bac

Byredo

Situated on Rue St.-Honoré, just a few doors away from Colette’s former location, Byredo’s boutique occupies the ground and second floors of a 1990s building. Here, creative director Ben Gorham has opted for a refreshingly different aesthetic for his French outpost. The backdrop is raw, thanks to the pairing of an exposed ceiling and walls with plentiful of wall scribblings created by M/M (Paris), a Paris-based design agency with which Gorham collaborates on all brand visuals. Further boosting the artsy vibe are the agency’s large-sized posters of Sarah Morris‘ films, wall-mounted in plexiglass frames. Here you will find the entire Byredo fragrance and beauty line, as well as a selection of their bags, leather accessories and blankets.

199 rue St.-Honoré

The Frankie Shop

To be honest, I’m a bit on fence with this place, but I guess it’s worth a mention. After having conquered New-York, it’s in Paris’ Marais district that The Frankie Shop has set down its globe-trotter luggage filled with brands from all over the world. The mantra of this boutique is spotting international, affordable and instantly Instagrammable designer brands: Rodebjer, Nanushka, By Far… there’s also an entire collection featuring the store’s name-sake brand, which is basically the wardrobe of every social media fashionista. Parisians seem to love it, as the place is also super crowdy.

14 Rue Saint Claude

Paco Rabanne

Paco Rabanne is growing under the wings of Julien Dossena, so it’s no surprise it’s opening first stores in Paris. The new location – opened just a month ago – is hidden in the same court yard as the above mentioned Comme Des Garçons. The 1960s-inspired interior perfectly matches Rabanne’s signature chain-mail dresses, floral skirts and metallic accessories.

54 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré

Kamel Mennour

Since 1999, Kamel Mennour presents in his three Parisian galleries (47 rue Saint-André des Arts, 6 rue du Pont de Lodi and 28 Avenue Matignon) the works of 40 contemporary artists who are internationally recognized. Through the publication of catalogues, exhibitions, biennales and fairs all over the world, Mennour presents, supports and defends the work of artists such as Mohamed Bourouissa, Daniel Buren, Petrit Halilaj, Camille Henrot, Huang Yong Ping, Anish Kapoor, Tadashi Kawamata, Bertrand Lavier, Lee Ufan, Claude Lévêque, François Morellet, Neïl Beloufa, Martial Raysse, Ugo Rondinone and Tatiana Trouvé. Always worth a visit, because you never know what you will discover. Martial Raysse’s “Les Statues!” exhibition that ended back in March was a beautiful experience.

Tom Greyhound

Tom Greyhound’s carefully curated selection of designers – think J.W. Anderson, Dries Van Noten, Jil Sander – blends in perfectly within its sophisticated and elegant décor. At their store, the client doesn’t simply go from rack to rack – they are called to discover refined themes of apparel and accessories, which all stand out. As the concept store describes itself, it is “entirely dedicated to a multicultural and contemporary approach to fashion.”

19 Rue de Saintonge

Caractère de Cochon

The shelves are lined with canned goods and condiments, while all kinds of cured meats fill the fridges, which you can take to go or have made into the best sandwich in Paris. Some of the cured hams include a Mangalitza from Hungary, Tuscan peppered ham, Iberico de Campo, and the baked ones include a parslied Bourgogne, a ham from the Vosges smoked over hay, one from Provence with rosemary, and one exception: la babilla, a center-cut of beef ham Other recommendations: the Catalan fuet and the liver terrine.

42 rue Charlot

/

Wrote about many other places in Paris- 0fr., Astier De Villate, Galerie Perrotin, Saint Laurent Rive Droite – earlier. To re-see those posts, click here. For some restaurant recommendations, see this. Also, my page “Places” got heavily updated with all the addresses I love… and not only in Paris!

/

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

(P.S. If you are inspired by my Parisian coverage, I’m really happy about, but please have in mind that now isn’t a safe time for any sorts of travelling. Stay at home!)

Neo Future. Comme Des Garçons AW20

Slajd1

Is it impossible to make something completely and utterly new, since we are all living in this world?”, Rei Kawakubo asked rhetorically in the press notes of her autumn-winter 2020 Comme Des Garçons collection. Looking at some “big” designers for a couple of seasons, this question is an actual punch with a fist. At this stage in her legendary career, what’s still driving Kawakubo is the tantalizing goal of being able to make work that relates to nothing else; that triggers no associations; is devoid of storytelling and free of history, politics, or satire; and is incapable of being interpreted as belonging to any culture or subconscious brew of any of the above. Among the 20 looks she sent out –  bubbles, ledged pieces apparently made for furniture, towering headpieces – it felt like she was aiming to design for some post-world state. There appeared to be echoes of Comme Des Garçons collections from the past – the Flat collection; the ones rotated around the idea of weddings and funerals; fragmented reminders of the Lumps and Bumps presentation. Kawakubo admitted it was true – she really let herself remix some of her past works. “Continuing my work as a perpetual futurist, I worked from within the CDG world.” But when you’re having such a well-formed, complex and distinct vocabulary – Miuccia Prada as well comes up to my mind as one of those designers – then there’s no wonder you want to recycle some of those concepts from time to time.

Slajd1-kopia 5Slajd2Slajd3-kopiaSlajd4Slajd5

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.