Today in the morning, out of the blue, I thought to myself: I need to look at Noir Kei Ninomiya‘s autumn-winter 2020 collection. I’ve got no idea how I missed it in my Paris fashion week coverage last March, but I’m happy to catch up on it. This collection was extraordinary. Ever since he first appeared during spring 2016, Ninomiya has slowly expanded his stitch-free wearable sculptures, building grander and ever more unsettling architectures. This season he again pushed forward into new territories, while working for the first time with Icelandic installation artist Shoplifter (aka Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir) as well as his long-standing floral art collaborator, Makoto Azuma. The magic of creative collaboration delivered something quite unforgettable. Shoplifter (an artist whose chosen material is synthetic hair, her works include the cover of Björk’s 2004 album, Medúlla, and the mind-blowing installation in the Icelandic pavilion at last year’s Venice Biennale) added a fresh element to the interplay between Ninomiya’s materials and Azuma’s botanicals, specifically exaggerated hair extensions that made the silhouettes look and feel even more organic and out-of-this-world. In his usual enigmatic manner, Ninomiya had said this collection was mostly about the color red, in that as paint it can be mixed to create black. The metallic woven check fabric that was folded and whipped like air-filled ice cream around the body vaguely resembled a florist’s bouquet wrapping. The fronds of palm, succulent, tuber, and bamboo that nuzzled and nudged their way through and around Shoplifter’s hairy extensions created an impression of human and plant grafted together and slowly devouring each other. Ninomiya’s materials included golden wires that furled like unearthly waratahs around the wearer; interconnected safety pins built into pearl-linked globes or an entire dress; red feathers; strips of rivet-connected red tulle; and lengths of brass-colored steel wool frayed, then wrapped in transparent PVC and braided to resemble enormous Viking wigs. Those safety pins (also gracing a fine new shoe collaboration with Church’s) and the tartan section signified a punk undertone also present in the guitar: Ninomiya’s usual biker jacket motif was retired for the season, but he hit the fringe trend via a couple of apocalyptically enormous black pieces. The closing titanic fuzzball was at once hilarious and ominous – part dark cloud, part hyper-expressed protective aura, all Noir.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.