Fashion, sometimes, should be unpredictable, theatrical. Rei Kawakubo understands this sentiment. The Japanese designer Comme des Garçons is both unpredictable and theatrical. For fall 2016, the idea was ‘18th century punks.’ Decoding that one should be some fun.
The 18th century was the time of many revolutions. Kawakubo was imagining what punks would’ve adorned their bodies with in that epoch. Genius! The answer was encasing the body in 3-D, floating structures, constructing from tapestry panels; in some cases they were rolled to create the shape of flower petals. One look made of red leather baubles was bursting with mohair. Like a rose bush, with mohawks from hairstylist Julien d’Ys and 80s inspired shoes, the model bounced down the catwalk, the audience in awe-struck.
There were flavours of Japan in the collection. Samurai armour could be clearly seen in the formation of a number of looks. Pieced together, red, blue, turquoise and pink tapestries made up the models armour. The next look was a lieutenants uniform, without a doubt. Imposing crimson leather arm panels and leg braces was punctuated with a floral top and trousers and a pink breastplate.
Armour is a recurring symbol for the current state of the world in designers’ collections. Everyone is susceptible to an attack, and shielding ourselves in clothing is commonplace.
To open and close the show, the attendees were graced with the formidable presence of Anna Cleveland (daughter of Pat Cleveland). Out she pranced, not an ounce of triviality, just sheer determination and grace, wearing a pink blazer, which at the shoulders, burst into a waterfall of ruffled pink fabric.
A point of interest in this collection is the idea of “revolution.” The 18th century was the time of many. The French namely, revolted against the divine right of kings and all that stood for. Sourcing silks from Prelle and Bucol, it would be remiss of Kawakubo not to reference the country in which she hosts her collection and had a well-documented revolution, led by notable revolutionaries—who I hope would marvel at the sight of this collection.
Revolutionary is a strong word. Rei Kawakubo is a revolutionary. The preset ‘rules of fashion’ are ones which she happily disobeys and rebels against, to the delight of her bidding audience. These are the pieces that will end up in museums, because they are both technical (and technological) feats but also because they’re museum-worthy. They invoke an emotional response in the viewer, they highlight the rarity of a designer with enough confidence to rebel agains the god-awful ‘system.’ And also, this is a ‘would-be’ history lesson. What if punks were around in the 18th century? Now you know.
Photo Credit: dazeddigital.com