#SuzyPFW: Graffiti Comes To Life At Comme des Garçons
Everything seemed set for doom and gloom. The Comme des Garçons show was held at the Russian Embassy, brutal and aggressively plain among the bourgeois buildings in the upper-class Paris district.
Rumours abounded that Rei Kawakubo was having the fashion equivalent of writer’s block after her historic display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that had drawn over half a million visitors. Yves Saint Laurent, before her, had admitted that seeing his body of work displayed in the same museum had ultimately stunted his creativity.
So, surely this Comme show would be all black? And probably one of the more complex presentation of “clothes, not clothes” that had previously produced bulbous objects made from under-carpet flooring that cushioned the models from normal movement.
POW! Out came a joyous mix of flowers: fat red roses and pale pink peonies all set against a background of blue sky and on a coat whose tailored jacket, if not the billowing lower half, could have stepped out on the street. A pair of pair of boxing shoes, in collaboration with Nike, eased the model’s progress up steps and on to a long thin catwalk in the embassy’s function room.
The show was brimming with exuberant decoration that explained the focus of the collection. The words offered were “Multi-dimensional Graffiti”. And, for once, in the designer’s history of obscure titles, this show immediately made sense.
There was a cheerful – or even defiant – swagger to a silvered jacket worn over a metallic surface bodysuit. Other puffed-up coats had patchworks of flowers and children’s blown-up faces. Some pieces looked like 18th-century floral paintings; others had a more contemporary mix of black and white checks with abstract flowers.
Heads were crowned with a scrubbing brush hair do by Julien d’Ys, who had interspersed their towering height with childish toys from smiley face coins to mini balloons and a grass green teddy bear. By the end of the show, the toys had moved down to smother the shoulders and chest above a plastic contraption that might pass as a skirt.
Art was at the heart of the painterly prints, especially Arcimboldo’s luscious faces created from fruit in the 16th-century and the Manga paintings of compelling young blonde girls with black eyes from Macoto Takahashi.
These elements brought verve and energy to the show, although many designers have taken the art route before her.
Since Rei rarely speaks – and only then through the words of her business partner and husband Adrian Joffe – it is impossible to know if the Met show had inspired or terrified the designer.
But – she did send out in her own person a clear and definite message: for the first time I have ever seen, Rei Kawakubo wore, not her habitual black, but a bright RED coat.