Virtually 4 years in the past, Rei Kawakubo opened her Comme des Garçons girls’s present with a pair of enormous and armless kinds fabricated from layers of white wadding. I’m positive I wasn’t the one individual within the room that day, in Paris, who discovered this very humorous. Kawakubo had abstracted the feminine physique because it has been represented in each classical sculpture and, nearer to dwelling, the Stockman gown type utilized by designers. She had given her “our bodies” a wonkier determine they usually had been displayed on two fashions. The remainder of the present continued in that great and bizarre vein. Nothing actually seemed like garments.
And so they wouldn’t once more till this week, when Kawakubo offered her spring 2021 assortment in her places of work in Tokyo. That’s a very long time for a severe designer to restrict her expression to summary objects, and I typically questioned if Kawakubo was expressing the issue of creativity itself. Had she hit a wall? Was she saying with these inarticulate-looking blobs of brocade and lace that she had nothing left to say? However anger has lengthy been the starch in her trend, for the reason that ’70s. By not making garments as such, was she venting her frustration at girls? In an interview this summer season, for The Lost Season, she advised me she wished that extra girls would put on garments that had been visually robust. In a phrase, difficult.
Photograph: Courtesy of CDG
The timing of her return to wearable clothes (at the least by Comme’s requirements) is important, I feel. Of all designers, Kawakubo is the one almost certainly to anticipate that the pandemic would result in enticing, feel-good garments for girls. And, by and enormous, that’s what occurred this season, from Prada and Hermès to Michael Kors and Christopher John Rogers.
Kawakubo’s garments had been additionally uplifting however for causes all their very own. First, she tailored basic couture silhouettes — the trapeze, the balloon, the ’50s social gathering skirt. Second, she used conventional materials like chiffon and satin as properly vinyl, each strong and clear. And third, she created large-scale prints of Mickey Mouse and Be@rbrick, a Japanese toy bear. The attire accomplished in a print normally featured some graffiti on the hems.
Photograph: Courtesy of CDG
None of those components is new. However it was the mixed impact, and within the context of a season that saved stressing the identical photographs of ladies, that made them completely different. I don’t know if it will go down as one among Kawakubo’s biggest collections — I occur to assume it’s — however it’s going to actually be unpacked by costume historians and critics for years to return. You have got, on the one hand, these beguiling couture silhouettes, which Kawakubo typically handled in a comparatively easy method — for instance, a black full-skirted gown, with a strip of black vinyl on the bodice and tight, gathered-up sleeves. And, on the opposite, you’ve got pop-cultural references in addition to an perspective that’s ironic and aggressive — essentially the most aggressive this season. Mickey’s repeated picture within the print isn’t solely candy; it’s additionally manic. Looped across the high of a shimmery black night slip was a sausage-linked roll of white cloth. It made me consider a balloon canine.
And although lots of the garments would look superb on a pink carpet, in addition they appeared to quietly mock a trend world pushed by superstar.
By the way in which, Kawakubo’s theme for the gathering was dissonance. However, for me, she didn’t simply strike that observe together with her personal bracing designs. She struck it throughout the entire business, virtually as a problem.