Comme Des Garçons at The MET

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Autumn-winter 2000

Today, Rei Kawakubo‘s revolutionary and incomparable contribution to fashion will be honored at The MET ball, ahead of the exhibition opening this Thursday. Only the second show dedicated to a living designer in the institution’s history (the first was Yves Saint Laurent in 1983), it’s a testament to the radical experimentation with garments of the 74-year-old, whose dedication to ‘the art of in-between’ has earned her a cult fandom. Forget the celebs, who I doubt will wear any Comme Des Garçons with passion tonight (really, don’t make me laugh, Katy Perry). Here are my seven alternative red carpet looks, coming straight from Kawakubo’s universe.

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Autumn-winter 2012 – This collection shaped my love for fashion. That’s a fact.

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Autumn-winter 2017

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Spring-summer 2015

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Autumn-winter 2016

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Spring-summer 1997

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Spring-summer 2017

All collages are by Edward Kanarecki, the author of the blog.

Body. Comme Des Garçons AW17

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First thoughts after seeing Rei Kawakubo‘s Comme Des Garçons collection for autumn-winter 2017 (written chronologically). Post-apocalyptic vision of Nicki Minaj’s / Kim Kardashian’ bodies. A Kawakubo human changes into an over-sized mushroom. Recycling is not only ecological; it’s artistic.

Rei’s collection is the new radical. Anti-fashion. Intepret it the way you want. But don’t think of it in terms of ‘clothes’, because these garments can’t be classified that way.

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Multi-Faceted. Comme des Garçons SS17

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Spring-summer 2017, in overall, is a season of optimism and joyous colours. But Rei Kawakubo never was, and will be, a comformist, who cares about current tendecies. The latest Comme des Garçons outing saw a line of the biggest, or even the most gargantuan silhouettes that have ever appeared on a runway. All in black, white, red and with hints of tartan plaid, the voluminous dresses and cocoon-coats made the models’ bodies (and heads) “drown”. Those weren’t clothes any longer, but wearable sculptures, which challenge the frequently over-used statement “fashion is art“. Actually, there’s not much sense in seeking inspirations behind Kawakubo’s work – her creativity, and mind, is a multi-faceted universe, where nothing is what it seems.

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The New Revolutionaries

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Fashion is continuous in communicating on what’s happening in the world. Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren shaped the 70s punk scene in Great Britain, shaking up the aristocratic nation; Marc Jacobs took grunge into the world of high fashion at Perry Ellis in 1993. There was Raf Simons with studded, skinny pants for boys, and Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent years later, reviving Yves’ (in)famous scandale spirit. All of those designers wanted to show rebellion, and made history. This season, the mood of rebellion was present, too, but introduced in a different way. If you want to look defiant, leave your mud-splattered boots behind.

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Marc Jacobs and Lucie de la Falaise, Perry Ellis era

Take Rei Kawabuko and her autumn-winter 2016 collection at Comme des Garçons – it was an ode to the 18th century, but not in the way you might have expected. The silhouettes were voluminous, while the textures clashed with contrasts. Instead of embroideries and embellishments, opulence played a different role. “The 18th century was a time of change and revolution,” Rei said. “This is how I imagine punks would look, if they had lived in this century.” Think about French aristocracy, and just remind yourself some Marie Antoinette’s pouf hair-style or Louis XIV’s obsession with heels. Ball-dresses, splendour of colours – this is how the Incroyables originated, putting a barrier between them, and others. Their looks shouted “I’m in the elite – you’re NOT”. In fact that was a kind of punk gesture, if you look at that from another perspective. Paradoxically, Kawakubo wasn’t mistaken – punks, different punks, already existed before Dame Vivienne. Living in their saccharine wardrobes and eating cupcakes while the poor starved was to an extend… radical.

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Comme des Garcons AW16

Good times changed for aristocracy, and the French revolution proves that. John Galliano‘s spring-summer 1993 collection was a modern-day interpretation, of how a Merveilleuse (female equivalent for Incroyable) could have looked before execution. Of course with grace! A sheer  dress which looked nearly like a piece of underwear; her hair of fleek. Decapitation had to be chic, and Galliano’s spectacular collection filled with tattered frock coats, dilapidated chiffon, and extravagantly puff-sleeved gowns was a controversial success.

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All of the above: John Galliano SS93

But coming back to 2016. Marc Jacobs‘ latest outing was all about full skirts and big dresses in polished leather. Platforms were there. Those ladies were like the bad queens and bad princesses from a fantasy, while their outfits were loud nods to monarchy looks. For Maison Margiela, Galliano devoted his haute couture collection once again to the Incroyables, presenting coats with exaggerated tails. But this time, the one-of-a-kind pieces were mixed with high-tech textiles and hand-made chantilly lace. John explained his artisanal season as a reflection of today’s world troubles. “I didn’t want to repeat what I did as a kid,” said Galliano. “But it has the rebellious attitude of youth.” Lastly, Dries Van Noten was inspired with Marchesa Casati’s avant-garde aura. She was, you’ve guessed well, an unconventional aristocrat, with her smokey eyes, layers of pearl necklaces and exotic furs. She looked different that all the other fancy dames from those times – and that’s why Dries felt appeal to her. An embodiment of punk? Yes.

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Marc Jacobs AW16

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Dries Van Noten AW16

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Dries Van Noten AW16

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Above: Maison Margiela Haute Couture AW16

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Women of AW16

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It’s not a secret that women with attitude inspire fashion, and the designers. This season, we had a range of different characters – from aristocratic femme fatale to a lady who travelled the world, the season of autumn-winter 2016 is definitely dedicated to the women, who made history. Or, at least, are the important chapters in fashion chronicles.

Marchesa Luisa Casati x Dries Van Noten

Aristocratic suits, piqué shirts, gold lamé shoes, leopard-spot pantalons and the radiating soigné manner surrounding the smoky-eyed women. It’s a story reviving Marchesa Luisa Casati, the woman with her iconic pet-cheetahs obsession and a memorable collection of pearl necklaces. The Belgian designer mused “she pushed decadence as a lifestyle, but was never happy” – indeed, the collection was shrounded in melancholic mystery. The masculine coats, celebrating Casati’s lover, Gabriele D’Annunzio, and white shirts tucked in tweed pants were all about Dries’ imaginary woman, who shares her man’s wardrobe and reads, maybe, books about existence. Decadence and Van Noten – a match made in heaven, making this season a highlight for the designer.

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Anne-France Dauthville x Chloé

With her favourite, laid-back signatures, Clare Waight Keller revived the spirit of a Frenchwoman, Anne-France Dauthville, who travelled across Europe and Middle East on her motorcycle in the 70s. One of the looks was basically a motocross combo of a jacket and a pair of pants, styled with off-duty biker boots. With ecru foulards tied around necks, the girls wore the best-selling, ruffled silk and lace dresses, while the opening look was a voluminous, travel-forward poncho. Watching Chloé’s AW16 collection, you felt like THIS girl is a truly carefree soul.

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Comme Des Garçons x Marie Antoinette

Although Rei Kawakubo isn’t a fan of mood-boards, her latest collection for Comme des Garçons was everything – punk, sexy, deviant and royal. The closing look worn by Anna Cleveland, so the pastel-pink, leather piece with exaggerated, ruffled sleeves was a defiant reconstruction of Marie Antoinette’s coat, in which she would surely have a cupcake, or two. Just like Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna von Habsburg-Lothringen, the Queen of France and Navarre, Kawakubo is against the flow.

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Celine x Donna Karan

Although Donna Karan closed her main line last year, and left DKNY for the Public School boys, her influence from the 80’s and 90’s felt distinct in Phoebe Philo‘s relaxed season at Celine. The flowing silhouettes and extremely wearable pieces are so effortless that every woman would love to wear Philo’s clothes nowadays. This was totally the same goal for Karan back in the days – she made her clothes so comfortable that they instantly became the second skin for her New York clients. Nearly invisible in wearing – timeless, seasonless and ageless. But not boring!

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Women, who’ve inspired the designers for autumn-winter 2016 season are (or were) all absolutely original in their lifestyle and way of being. Which one reflects you in fashion? Or, maybe you’re not identifying with any of them? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Erotic Decadence. Comme des Garçons AW16

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“18th century punk” is how Rei Kawakubo, the 73-year old designer behind Comme des Garçons entitled her autumn-winter 2016. But don’t expect opulent ball-dresses with tomahawks (although Julien D’Ys, Rei’s long-time collaborator, created those grandiose hair constructions for this occasion)  – this collection pushed all the possible concepts of both, the past of historical costumes and punk. And, it was really all about sex and fantasies, with gigantic tongues, and – well, let your naughty imagination work it out – layered garments with “balls”, rendered in Lyon’s finest (and most expensive) tapestry. The closing look worn by Anna Cleveland, so the pastel-pink, leather piece with exaggerated, ruffled sleeves was a defiant reconstruction of Marie Antoinette’s coat, in which she would surely have a cupcake, or two. It subtly exposed calves, just like the rest of the extraordinary “dresses”. Another look, also in the same shade of pink, was an elongated blazers with harness belts tied all around the model’s body, while the floral armor made of booming, red fur pom poms shouted one thing – make love, don’t fight. There was a decadent, bourgeois feeling of couture, but simultaneously, Kawakubo broke up with chambre syndicale conventions, and totally ripped the French fanciness off. Who do you call a rebel now?

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Men’s – Flower Power. Comme des Garcons AW16

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We all got used to the breath-taking and avant-garde garments for woman, which are envisioned by Rei Kawakubo‘s always surprising imagination. In case of menswear, however, the woman behind Comme des Garcons bases her ideas around classical, quintessential clothes, like for example a well-tailored suit or a leather biker jacket. In the effect, these usual pieces appear to be one-of-a-kind. For autumn-winter 2016, Rei explored the blurry borders of masculinity, and humanity, by representing an ethereal, yet dark performance of warrior-like models, who wore beautiful, floral head-pieces created by Julien D’Ys. The whole outing, which sensed like a “war and peace” manifesto, felt very emotional – there was pure sadness in models’ eyes, but supreme happiness in the bold, flower colours. Surely, the show’s meaning was deeper than a “flower-power” cliché. But flowers do cheer up our lifes. Even, when the world is becoming a very dynamic and dangerous place.

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Blue Witches. Comme des Garçons SS16

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Rei Kawakubo is bored with “fashion”. That’s why her Comme des Garçons collection for spring-summer 2016 is so different. “Blue Witches” (the title of the collection) was created out of shapes that resembled coats and dresses – however, the silhouettes covered with metres of synthetic velvet, thousands of feathers and prickly fabric that resembled the back of a hedgehog looked peculiar. The cloudy, red wigs styled by Julien D’ys gave me goosebumps, as they had a horror-film vibe about them. If talking of Comme des Garçons and Rei, you can’t say whether you liked or disliked the collection. These clothes (if you even dare to call them “clothes”) are so out of the standards that it’s to some extend pointless to even review them. The only thing left is to a) interpret them and b) wear them, with attitude and understanding.

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AGELESS

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 Joan Didion in Celine SS15 shot by Juergen Teller

Whoever said that 60+ women can’t have fun with FASHION, really lived a dull life of boredom. Fortunately, this stereotype is officially broken since Tuesday, when the new summer campaign by Céline was realeased. The 81 year old American writer, Joan Didion, stars in this specific campaign shot by Juergen Teller. After the first preview, the internet broke. Wearing dark sunglasses, Joan looks smart, chic and sharp (even sharper than some teen-models). For the creative director of Céline, Phoebe Philo, that’s a smart move – since the beginning of her career, Phoebe designs clothes for all women. Not only for 20 – 30 girls, as some designers do. And now, with this campaign, she proves that every women, regardless the age, counts in the fashion world, and in her label.

But in reality, it’s not the first time 60+ women appear in fashion – the truth is, that this happens pretty often nowadays. Iris Van Apfel, 94 year old interior designer and businesswoman, wears Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto on daily basis – in 2012, Iris was present on the cover of Dazed & Confused magazine, wearing incredibly bold dresses and head-covers. The other mature beauty is Linda Rodin (63). She owns the beauty brand, Rodin Olio Lusso, known for using natural ingredients in all of their cosmetics. And in the free time, she stars in The Row’s look-books! Also, we can’t forget about Rei Kawakubo (74), the Japanese fashion genius who created Comme Des Garçons in 1973. She is the woman that pushes the boundaries of imagination through her mindful, intellectual collections. Fashion would never be so dynamic and creative without her input. And, just like all of these inspiring women, she’s not planning to slow it down. Surely, now you won’t say that your grandma is „too old“ for FASHION… (originally published on nuicons.com)

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Iris Van Apfel in Dazed & Confused

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Rei Kawakubo

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Linda Rodin in The Row Pre-Fall 2014 look-book