Dispatches from Paris: Comme des Garçons

Rebecca Lowthorpe reports

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GIF: Comme des Garçons, s/s 2015 - Getty

Blood and roses. That’s what we saw on the Comme des Garcons runway yesterday. And what did Rei Kawakubo, the mother of boundary smashing fashion want us to feel? Disturbed? Anxious? Entranced? Awed?
 
It’s impossible to come away from a Comme des Garcons show and know exactly what triggered it. What, who or how Rei Kawakubo’s mind gets sparked is fashion’s most closely guarded secret. There are no show notes, no discernible retail-ready clothes as such, no easy trends to latch on to. Her creations are perambulating works of art, which sounds pretentious – what is fashion for if not to be worn? But Kawakubo’s aim, with her runway shows, seems purely and simply driven by a need to inspire. She does this in front of a tiny audience of 100 fashion people and receives uproarious applause for her efforts, every single time. And no matter what she does, she influences: she is probably the most name-checked designer alive, hence her status as the designer’s designer.
 

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IMAGE: Comme des Garçons, s/s 2015 - Getty

This season’s poetry in motion was almost entirely drenched in startling blood red – any white that featured was splashed with violent paint strokes. It was a fable, horror movie, period drama and anatomy lesson rolled into one. Models wore Marie Antoinette-esque blonde frizzed hair and scarlet lips, and the ‘clothes’ were so grand, so epic even, that they recalled courtiers' garments from the 18th century. 

They also made you think that Kawakubo wanted to turn the body inside out: the first coat, covered in roses and slashed to ribbons, looked like dripping blood. A torso was covered in thick, snake-like tubes that resembled the large intestine. A red velvet cloak reminded me of a corrugated lung, while a beautiful Venetian pleated sheath looked as if it was suspended by tendons. The idea of a macabre fairy tale permeated the collection with giant pointed hoods – a spooky Red Riding Hood? Another model was trapped inside an impenetrable rose bush – Sleeping Beauty? Needless to say, the cutting involved in a garment that featured many mountainous sleeves, or a cocoon skirt made from slashes of stiff, shiny strips that resembled a bird’s nest, was all exemplary.
 
It hardly matters what thoughts lay behind Rei Kawakubo’s collection. It was a feast for the eyes. And a gazillion miles away from the predictable, nice clothes we watch trotting down the catwalk every day. Thank goodness for Comme des Garcons.

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