Comme des Garcons’ Rei Kawakubo Keeps Fashion Fans Guessing

Comme des Garcons’ Rei Kawakubo Keeps Fashion Fans Guessing
Comme des Garcons Spring/Summer 2013
(Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)

Nothing is as it seems at Comme des Garcons shows. They are, inevitably, studies in contrast and contrarianism, amplifying and distorting ideas like a hall of mirrors. As designer Rei Kawakubo doesn’t give interviews, who’s to say what she’s thinking? Whatever it is, the art crowd flocks to it. Loads of artists swear by Comme and that master of iconoclasm, John Waters, reportedly wears nothing but. 

Since isolating inspirations would be an exercise in futility, here’s the gist of the spring collection, shown over the weekend during Paris Fashion Week. The first half of the show consisted of slow-moving models with long and very fake white tresses, wearing canvas dresses folded in on themselves. These folds grew into larger masses as the show went on, until the girls appeared to be wearing a rack’s worth of clothing in one garment, with fabric piled high and sleeves sticking out in every direction. Shots of purple, red, and blue velour were slowly introduced, as models walked faster and faster. Hats, meanwhile, resembled metal paint cans or water pails after a go through a car crusher.

Given the models’ plasticity, maybe they represented crash dummies and what we were looking at here were staged car crashes. After all, not everyone is inspired by picture-perfect trips to the tropics, and Rei Kawakubo has gone against the grain every other step of the way.

On another tangent altogether, Kawakubo’s protégé — if you can still call him that after all these years — Junya Watanabe took the notion of athleticism to curious new extremes. It was unclear where his collection ended and his haute-sport new collaboration with Puma began as models bolted down the runway in bright techy fabrics, bike shorts, mesh inserts, and plastic zips. Nary a natural fiber could be found. Did we mention he’s the contrary sort, too?

Lee Carter is editor-in-chief of Hint Fashion Magazine.

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