by Alexander Fury .

PARIS FASHION WEEK Comme des Garcons

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Rei Kawakubo's collection, like her venue, was dark. Dark in physicality and dark in psychology. Perhaps only she could show a collection ostensibly for summer in a pit of blackness and entirely swathed in that self same shade. There were slight exceptions: silver and white was used for projecting body-amour, part-Space Age part-Dark Age, strapped around the models' shoulders, while their heads towered with powedered white Ancien Regime wigs that Marie Antoinette herself would have baulked at. Attempting to unravel Kawakubo's diverse, complex and even contradictory influences is a fruitless task, but this season there seemed to be an element of protection to her offerings. Marching out to the incessant, insistent, war-like beat of drums, that Marie Antoinette candy-floss pouf was occasionally battened-down with leather or plastic helmets, and tesselated hexagons of fabric formed geodesic structures that rose in a hump behind the neck, as if protecting the models' flanks. Or perhaps as if going to battle. There were military touches too, in flack jackets coiled and twisted around the body, sometimes backwards, sometimes skew-whiff and scissoring across the torso with petals of fabric blooming from underneath. These later ran riot, bubbling out of seams, slits and slats until the final model, from bewigged hairline to ankle, was entirely cloaked. Perhaps it was about the triumph of nature over man, as those petals broke down geometric form and strict tailoring and triumphed. Perhaps it was about preservation, or even about damnation - hence the doomed Dauphin hair and overwhelming blackness. Considering how difficult it is to work out the message of the collection, to say that message was strong seems paradoxical. But Kawakubo, it seems, is always in pursuit of the perfect paradox.

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