It was interesting that following this seasons' Comme des Garçons show, Tilda Swinton and Olivier Saillard engaged in a performance that touched upon the subject of the growing mass of fashion and imagery that clogs up schedules, our Twitter feeds and in the end, our brains. It felt like Rei Kawakubo was passing comment on the same subject by turning it on its head and placing as much fabric as possible, crushed, folded, manipulated and condensed into her collection. The artist Graham Hudson contributed to this trash-turned-treasure couture with headpieces that made use out of objects such as buckets, broken toys and what appeared to be a mini washing machine. They were the focal point that made you wonder whether Kawakubo was thinking about the follies of waste in the world (in the garment industry and elsewhere) or seeing beauty in the unwanted, like the flea market connoisseur we imagine her to be. One suspects it's the latter. She's hardly a stranger to reconstruction and deconstruction of garments and so her use of plain cream calico in the opening passage, the fabric of choice for toiling, bunched up into asymmetric dresses that varied in their bulk felt like her dominion. Sometimes a swathe of gold or silver lame would enter the fray. The calico collaging built up in its complexity but Kawakubo never lost control of how the silhouettes would end up as every stitch, lump and fold were firmly in rein.
Then we were suddenly jolted into a quickened pace, indicating the presence of black. So quick were the models that you barely had a chance to take in the mix up of textures – a flash of red or purple velvet, a taffeta sleeve, a PVC kilt-like skirt. It's too simplistic to deduce that this was an expression of anger on Kawakubo's part. After all, Kawakubo has mastered the beauty of fifty shades of black in Comme des Garçons' history. There was a tension though that couldn't be ignored as we finally entered into an even more exaggerated quartet of cream calico, this time with defined garment parts all patchworked together into dresses that flared out into bustles or out front in misshapen beauty. The sleeves and jacket parts looked like discernible parts from past Comme collections, re-contextualised here to great effect. Was this another comment on the state of fashion recycling and rehashing the past? Yet another question that will probably go unanswered.
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