Rei Kawakubo: An Ode to Human Liberty and Independence for Comme des Garçons FW22
For Fall Winter 2022, the Comme des Garcons Tokyo office was transformed into a runway for three of its major offspring: Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, and Noir Kei Ninomiya. Heralding far from the French capital where these highly coveted shows usually take place, each designer still managed to seize the moment and explore a particular paradigm through their lens. Each brand encompasses its own distinctive ethos, principles and creative process, yet what they all share is the burning ability to reimagine clothes and fondness of the colour black. Marked by this visionary approach, trust these three Japanese designers to give us a masterclass on how to provoke the mind and refresh one’s line of vision.
Comme des Garçons
Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçon show was a beautiful ode to human liberties and independence. Titled Black Rose, Kawakubo’s latest unveiling was a hauntingly poetic nod to Ireland’s past where this flower symbolised strength and resistance against British rule. For Kawakubo, “ the dark beauty of the black rose symbolises courage, resistance and freedom.” When one looks over Kawakubo’s body of work, it is obvious that independence is something she holds essential and dear. In addition to all that is going on in the world right now, use of this delicate and symbolic fragile flower seems a fitting emblem to describe our current milieu.
Aesthetically speaking, the collection was a beautiful manifestation of Kawakubo’s dark roots and habitual play with proportions. The almost entirely black collection was physically and emotionally embodied by an eloquent darkness that transpires across everything she comes to touch. Chunky and textured black coats were paraded between layered tweed jackets and rotund dresses. Each look made more distinctive with a touch of contrasting glimmer. For example, a rainbow tulle dress peaked out from under one particular neckline, meanwhile floral pattern embroideries made its peeping presence across several grey looks. Details as such instilled a sense of life upon the monochromatic pieces, uplifting what would have otherwise been rather melancholy.
Adding to the narrative of bravery and light amidst darkness was the flute rendition of the resistance song, Roisin Dubh (1996). Cozy and inviting outwear looked like cushioned armour as the rebellious flute melodies echoed through the air. The padded pieces emulated a narrative of clothing as strength, clothing as protection. Next, an assortment of zebra-printed voluptuous coats slowly emerged, linking back to a sense of naturalness that animals have when out of captivity. Music and clothing worked beautifully together, painting a picture of each look as an individual, dignified black rose.
As a designer that constantly engages in creative collaborations, this show was no exception. Balanced on the heads of every model was a uniquely designed headpiece by British multidisciplinary artist Gary Card. Each headpiece burgeoned with colours, patterns, textures and complex knits. Also unveiled was the Pulsar Platform, the latest collaboration between Comme des Garçons and the sportswear-beacon Salomon. Offered in black and white, the colour-ways served a sleek and minimalistic frame to the outfits that were everything but.
Every season, designers try to foreshadow and create the next new trend – then there’s Rei Kawakubo. In a matter of minutes, all the elements from the accessories, styling, music, and makeup, synergized to produce a moving, avant-garde pureness. It proved another strong and conceptual show by the boundary breaking CdG founder. A designer with few words to say, it is clear that Kawakubo’s clothes speak volumes.
Read the Junya Watanabe show review here.
Read the Noir Kei Ninomiya show review here.
Words by Tara Robinson