In 1982, when Rei Kawakubo presented her provocative, all-black Comme des Garçons ‘Destroy’ collection in Paris, she shook the fashion world to its core. Condemned by the French press as ‘Hiroshima chic’ – and hailed by her growing legion of admirers known as ‘crows’ – the collection was a bold move that established Kawakubo’s pioneering spirit. Thirty years later, and the Comme des Garçons figurehead is still challenging our associations with the colour black – this time with the help of a new protege.
Kei Ninomiya is the latest designer to join the cult of Comme, following in the footsteps of Junya Watanabe and Tao Kurihara. With the belief that “it isn’t necessarily technique that moves people, but the will to create something exciting”, the Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts graduate worked for Kawakubo as a pattern cutter for four years before being given the opportunity to present his own label, noir kei ninomiya.
Paying homage to Comme des Garçons’ revolutionary noir beginnings, Ninomiya is expressing his love of black with his own methods and on his own terms, piecing together garments without physical stitches and pushing boundaries of unconventional materials including pearls. Black is one of the key pillars of the Comme des Garçons church, and with Ninomiya on board, it once again seems boundless in its manifestations.