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Comme des Garçons Homme Plus AW15 Scribble Tattoo Print
Comme des Garçons Homme Plus AW15

Comme des Garçons Homme Plus AW15

Rei Kawakubo invites tattoo artist JK5 to make his mark on her menswear, in a collection inspired by ceremony and ritual

Initial reaction:

Does Paris feel a bit “heavy” post Charlie Hebdo? It’s hard not to feel that way trudging around in the bitterly cold. Perhaps Rei Kawakubo was feeling the weight and might of the darkness in death, as a dark hooded grim-reaper figure opened the show. We were told it was about “the power of ceremony” – and the collection reflected upon the way in which we elevate human life – making it all the more painful when it is lost. Funereal spliced black suiting gave way to all-over tattoo scribble scripted ensembles and then into the other extreme of white – a colour that represents purity and birth, but also mourning in Kawakubo’s native Japan. In one passage of blue and grey sombre tailoring, black armbands were worked in, akin to footballers who wear them on the pitch as a sign of respect for the dead. It was a stirring moment to sit there quiet and ponder the rituals that we have cultivated to honour, remember and mourn those we have lost.

Born to die:

To fully express the weighted mood of the collection, Kawakubo enlisted the help of world renowned tattoo artist turned multi-disciplinarian Joseph Ari Aloi aka JK5, to layer up his distinctive script of illegible words, until it resembled a scrambled pattern. You could make out the words “Born to Die” within the print – some would see that as a blunt truth. On the backs of white outerwear, not visible from catwalk images, photographer and artist Roger Ballen’s grim charcoal drawings depicted ghoulish figures, distorted faces and an indiscernible kind of horror. Kawakubo ended the show on an eerie note, but it was a darkness you wanted to embrace and confront head on.  

Inked up:

The ritual and ceremony of having a tattoo inked into your skin became the central motif of the collection. On canvas patchworks appliquéd onto blazers, enlarged tattoos took centre stage. “Eleanor” read one. There was religious iconography on another. What compels us to draw blood to place images and words on our skin? A memory, an emotional tie and a matter of significance. Kawakubo’s use of tattoo art reminded us of the need to feel the weight of all of those things.