paris fashion week: comme des garçons

(images via wwd)

i’m going to come straight out and admit i don’t think i’m smart enough to review a comme des garçons show. i mean, i know i’ve been attempting this very thing some seasons now (see a/w 2005, a/w 2010, a/w 2011, s/s 2012, a/w 2012, s/s 2013), but just the same, i feel like the tools one has to speak on a basic fashion show come nothing close to what rei kawakubo has been creating these recent seasons. to be sure, i think there was a time when her work could be a bit less visceral, and more obviously…i don’t know…not commercial, but perhaps approachable? but over the past few seasons, i think that element has gone, and instead she has produced show after show of complex creations that defy any language coming readily to the tongue–or fingertips–with regards to traditional fashion.

thus, this was, once again, how i was feeling coming into her a/w 2013 presentation at paris fashion week. i mean, i could tell you i liked it, but beyond that? maybe it’s simply better if i let the critics take things away. “in the case of Kawakubo’s collection,” noted us vogue, “her scissoring of men’s materials into suiting for women doesn’t involve any overtly antagonistic or subversive feminist content. Instead, what she got underway was an exercise in eking new shapes out of pantsuits—implanting them with rosettes and bows, smothering them with layers of rectangular tabs, bunched-up clusterings, and padded 3-D zones.”

and as style chirped out that “(t)here were things here that might at first appear to be mere decoration—the cascading swatches of fabric; the rosettes; the bows; the thick, serpentine, and biomorphic shapes; the rounded, flounced Belle Époque bustles at the back of some of the trousers—but in fact, they were all built into the very nature of these clothes. The pattern cutting made every element integral to the tailoring of what loosely, and reductively, might be described as ‘suits’—the infinity of tailoring, indeed,” fashion week daily pointed out that “(t)he complexity of the clothing alone was enough to show that much time was spent on developing these pieces, which was perhaps a statement emphasized by the ultra narrow runway on which it was shown so that editors could see the detail up close.”

meanwhile, according to the iht‘s suzy menkes, “(t)his romantic masculinity was not new to the designer, but she made each piece more intense than in previous collections, until all the restraint exploded in the last four pieces as multicolored über-decorated versions of the tailoring. Ms. Kawakubo has been playing recently with idea of crushing fabrics together until they became a single unit. But this was a more sophisticated and technically exceptional version of planting decoration into the heart of tailoring and letting it flower.”

“The clothes Kawakubo has us pondering over next season are monochrome and houndstooth suits stuffed and smothered and bursting with rosettes, bows and roses, skirts pinched into point to straddle the body as though the top half has slotted into place because of this design detail,” reflected an apparently bemused uk vogue. “There came one suit dripping in squares of pinstripe swatches, like it was a moving tree – and the mossy, sponge hair up top went some way in supporting this theory. Perhaps it was a comment on commercialism and business – the suit being the ultimate badge of this – and how beauty (the roses and bows here) can still grow from that? Or maybe not.”

and elsewhere, art info noted that “Rei Kawakubo covered clownishly mis-proportioned jackets with piles of blooms in the same fabrics as her tailoring, a couture technique that she works in an oversized faux-sloppy way. Sometimes there was a hole in the fabric, as if in the mad dash to create these enormous flowers, she slipped with the scissors and just had to make it work anyway….Kwakubo [sic] also tried tailoring from layers of swatches, all in the same fabric for a disjointed, going-to-pieces look. The best was the finale, in which she went for psychedelic floral piles on suits covered with fat little bows. The velvet florals were remarkable and directional with the velvet adding a strange depth to the intense patterns.”

then, explained wwd, “‘(t)he infinity of tailoring,’ Kawakubo mumbled backstage post-show, with her husband Adrian Joffe offering, ‘Everything you can do with a jacket and pants.’ For instance, swirl a houndstooth suit into a garden of rosettes, or bubble and twist the sleeves of a jacket into rings akin to a child’s inflatable swimmies. The majority of the lineup was devoted to men’s wear fabrics — pinstripes and gray Prince of Wales — bursting with hyper-feminine treatments. A mini-houndstooth coat was tied up in bows, as if in protest of its Y chromosome, and the legs of low-slung trousers were sewn into rosettes, over which was a half-skirt made of fabric flaps piled on like raw ruffles.”

and finally, elle reported that “this wasn’t just any old tailoring, this was, as she aptly described it: ‘The Infinity of Tailoring.’ Tailoring taken to its extreme limit – or perhaps she was saying there is no limit? So…she explored other autumn / winter 2013 favourites – volume and silhouette. There were giant shoulders that exploded with whorls of fabric, trouser legs and backs of jackets displaying giant roses, waistbands that jutted out front and back, big bows that cascaded down the front of coats or the backs of skirts, entire three-piece-suits made of fluttering square ‘leaves’ of the finest Savile Row wool worsted, jumpsuits whose sleeves were inflated with large fabric crocuses…” so there you have it. i hope you can make something of it where i cannot. but i don’t think it will hurt just to merely enjoy the clothes, either. i mean, this is retail, after all. so there.

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