Gathering of the shadows. Comme Des Garçons AW19

Rei Kawakubo’s autumn-winter 2019 is the second season when the Comme des Garçons designer no longer does abstract bodies. In the collection she entitled as a Gathering of the shadows, you could sense danger: nearly all-black looks, executioner hoods, armor-like shapes, a soundtrack that definitely caused goose-bumps (think heavy, militaristic machinery, helicopters and English Victorian hymn in children voice). Some thought the show was all about defensive aggression and the terror of today’s world. Kawakubo knows what’s going on, with nationalism intensifying across the world. But maybe this wasn’t a line-up that was solely about the occurring circumstances? Rei’s shows are here for your free interpretation. I saw something very sublime about this one. A coat made from slices of leather; a black taffeta dress worn under a shell-like jacket; fishnet body-suits worn under every garment. It was avant-garde, as shocking in 2019 as back in the 80s, when Japanese designers – lead by Kawakubo – arrived to Paris with their Hiroshima chic.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Moving. Comme Des Garçons SS19

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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.

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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.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Camp. Comme Des Garçons AW18

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In honour of International Women’s Day, taking a look at Comme Des Garçons autumn-winter 2018 is well advised. Rei Kawakubo is an icredible woman: she is assertive in everything she does, enigmatic, yet sharp. Her company is an empire (even though she would hate that word). Her main line of garments (counting of 16 this season) brings reflection and creativity in every sense of this word to fashion each season. This time, the spirit was more uplifting than usual. Actually, Rei was reading ‘Notes on Camp,’ Susan Sontag’s essay from 1964. As the author wrote, “Camp taste is, above all, a mode of enjoyment, not judgment. Camp is generous, it wants to enjoy. . . . Camp is a tender feeling.” The feeling is all over in here. Clashed clothes, camo with polka dots, sequins and mattresses, flowers and Betty Boop. Mix. Mash. Destroy. Create. Simply incredible.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Enigmatic. Comme Des Garçons SS18

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As usual, Rei Kawakubo‘s Comme des Garçons leaves it open to your very personal interpretation. Many questions arise, for which no answer will be given in terms of a simplistic ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Why was the collection presented at the Brutalist building of Russian embassy in Paris? Why were some of the model’s garments and headpieces featuring Hello Kitty and My Little Pony toys? What was the idea behind clashing Arcimboldo’s 16th century painting with manga? Patchwork, graffiti, accumulation. Childishness, anxiety, volumes. Does Rei even care, you critics and bloggers?

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.