Speaking bluntly, the standard state at any Comme Des Garcons show is bewilderment, coupled with panic. Then again, a glimpse of the future would be expected to cause that, and undoubtedly what Rei Kawakubo proposes is where fashion's heading.
For S/S 2011, there was something especially menacing about her offerings - frankly, there's almost always something sinister going on at Comme Des Garcons, but this time it was especially evident. Maybe it was the absence of colour, in a season where catwalks have been flooded with a dissonant cacophony of acid hues. Maybe it was the thundering soundtrack, snippets of horror film soundtracks coupled with tribal war-cries. Maybe it was the fact she served up this resolutely dark and foreboding collection for spring (a perverse twist typical of Kawakubo, it must be said). But mostly, it was the shape of the clothes themselves, uncompromising and stark as ever. This season, Kawakubo was in a mood to double up: why create one jacket, when you can button two together and fuse them at the back, leaving the extra fabric bunched down the centre-back seam? White drill coats and zippered Perfectos came with additional hanging sleeves in black, like sinister shadows, while the same fabric was occasionally wrapped around the arms in a horizontal band pinioning them to the body. Those extra sleeves sometimes exploded into whole garments - an upside-down ruffled dress tacked on to one side, or a coat wrapped up behind the neck with collar dangling around the knees. And at the end, models came out two by two, turning to reveal a third garment connecting them like Siamese triplets.
There's the bones of the show. What was the idea behind it? As always, it's open to interpretation, but it felt as if it was about protection - from some unknown, unseen predator, perhaps? Those sinister shadow-garments had a hint of the bogeyman to them, never mind the models resembling the creepy twins from The Shining. And when faced with imminent peril, the obvious thing to do it to protect ourselves. Those bunches of fabric, felt as if they were covering the models' flanks, while protection rarely gets more blatant than Kawakubo's accessory of choice - a hefty hide brassiere, strapped with a four-inch-wide belt over her dresses. Indeed, they were less bras and more breast-plates, aggressive rather than aggressively sexy. Think of it as intellectual armour for a cruel, duplicitous world. It may not be what Kawakubo had in mind, but it makes perfect sense.