Woe betide the journalist who tries to unravel a Rei Kawakubo collection. The woman herself - less monosyllabic than anti-syllabic - doesn't hold truck with any over-analytical investigation of her clothes, or working methods.
So, for this collection, it wouldn't do to comment on the shades of samurai warriors, eighteenth-century panniers of even the Michelin Man in her bulked and down-inflated silhouettes, patched anatomically with pincushion-style pillows mottling the form. At least, not directly to Kawakubo - because undoubtedly there were elements of all those, and more, in the garments she showed. There were also echoes of Comme past, namely the controversial 'Lump and Bump' collection of 1997, dubbed 'Cancer Couture' by a press who noticed similarities between her padded figures and malignant tumours. This time the padding, by and large, was even more anatomical - echoing make-believe muscle-groups pumped up with steroids, arranged symmetrically and disrupting the fabric plane, while trouser-skirt hybrids were viscerally rucked and rumpled until they resembled entrails spilling out from the abdomen. At the same time, with exposed seams turning to cupcake flounces, it was blatantly artificial, emphasised when Kawakubo cut her suits in tartan and chopped contrast patterns into those extended patches.
What to make of it all? That is indeed the question. Well to once again quote the bard, to thine own self be true - that is, this collection speaks to each person in an individual voice. That's part of Kawakubo's power. For me, there were unmistakable allusions to the medieval pourpoint, a garment from the fourteenth century stuffed with bombast, to be worn beneath the convex plate-armour of the period. It was the first 'tailored' garment, and many argue it as the origin of fashion, the first time the human shape was radically altered by the cut of the garment. Distortion, protection, an awareness of the body, and the idea of looking backwards, to her own archive as well as broader fashion history, to create the future. For me, those were the simple themes within this ever complex Comme Des Garcons show.