Rei Kawakubo has never been, for a while now, one to bow down to what’s being sporadically done on the runways at any given time. Difficult to be put into boxes such as modern or retro, which is the two paths brands everywhere seem to be taking this season, Comme des Garçons offers something single-handedly singular to the plate. Sure, it makes you ask a lot of questions and wonder what it all means but Kawabuko’s clothes are more and more an art-form in themselves than anything. It is always fascinating and thrilling to see what the 72-year old Japanese designer presents. This time, the enigmatic explanation she clued us in was : ’Ceremony of Separation’.
A week ago, the show took place at the Geology Gallery of the Paris Natural History Museum. It all began with the quiet yet haunting piano music by German-born British composer Max Richter, plunging the audience into unexplainable melancholy. As the first model walked down the very narrow runway, face painted pale-white, she looked like a creature more than a person. She was overstuffed with what seemed to be, white pillows padded together. Her hair was jet black and stiff, covering her face like a veil one would wear to mourn. Making her way back, another girl appeared and she was covered in a great amount of white cotton bows, taking so much space. Then, interestingly, the two stopped to acknowledge and look at each other, giving a little room to get the other through in a ghost-like manner. This was how all of the models would let each other pass. There was something very poised and poetic about it, perhaps evoking traditional oriental gestures. It did indeed feel ‘ceremonious’. Throughout the show, there were laces ; in white, black and a bit of gold. There were cage-like and superimposed dresses which were artfully blended and transformed into garments and large black cocoons vaguely showing the human body underneath. The pieces were elaborate to say the least, almost all paired with black tights and leather shoes that resemble plaster casts.
After a red-fueled romantic collection last season, these predominantly black and white pieces appear to illustrate pain, loss, sorrow and even anger in some ways. As a matter of fact, the show was very much on the emotive side. Goosebumps were present and some guests were even tearing up. If we were to look at this collection as a continuation of a committed story-telling, it’s trying to tell us that it’s making peace with its last encounter and is now moving on. (Text Aishanatasha Adisasmita)