In two month's time Rei Kawakubo and Andrew Bolton will present not just any exhibition - but arguably the fashion exhibition of the year. With time doubtlessly being at a premium at the moment - what with all the preparations and fine tuning - you could forgive Kawakubo for almost taking a season off, and presenting something that just kept things ticking along. But Kawakubo went for another option. She went full throttle.
This wasn't just a collection. It was an incredible collection. It was also a performance. It was one of fashion history's notable moments. Why? Well, it very much keyed in with with one of Kawakubo's most famous collections: S/S 97's Body meets Dress, Dress meets Body (often referred to as Lumps and Bumps.) Not only did the opening looks - comprising of plaster-of-Paris vase-like off-kilter curves - call this collection to mind, but the performance element reminded one of her collaboration with the late choreographer Merce Cunningham. The S/S 97 collection had been presented as costumes for a dance piece Cunningham had directed called Scenario. Although the girls didn't 'dance' here this season, they twirled and encircled - and tottered at varying speeds. They reacted to one another. They performed.
Indeed, Kawakubo says that this collection set out to discover 'the future of silhouette.' Just as Lumps and Bumps sought to redefine the 'female'/'feminine' shape within western fashion twenty years ago, this could almost be viewed as an anniversary appraisal of where she - and her/our world - is at now. For her new vision, Kawakubo actually left behind the world of fashion to find new ideas. Apart from the section in leather, all of the other pieces were made out of 'non-fashion fabrics.' Felt used in automobiles, loft insulation, heat reflective foil panelling and other near-industrial fabrics were all spotted. Prototyping the future clearly demands a wider view.
A long straight catwalk, with a pale pink background and walkway, saw girls arrive like white clouds. Metallic threads spun out of their hair like threatening showers. Boiled wool versions with multi coloured threads then arrived. Models looked back as if to welcome the next. They caught each other's gaze and locked in on each other as if they were planets caught in one another's orbit. Then, it was as if God was shuffling his feet or that nearby thunder threatened. A jittery but muffled beat sounded from above, and the girls retreated back through the entrance from whence they came. It was like witnessing a call into the enclave. The silver foil 'beach ball' section looked incredible with the pink setting. The red looked incredible also. Were these haemoglobin-tastic objects red blood cells? Were we in the womb? Was this outer space - or the inner workings of the human body? Or, was this collection life itself?