After last season’s riot of colour and celebration, I had high hopes for the Comme des Garcons Homme Plus A/W 18 offering. The show was set in Paris’s Théâtre du Châtelet and seated on the stage, I kept looking at the scaffolding on the left for a fanfare, a model to start climbing perhaps, or for models to walk amongst it. I was so convinced there would be something unusual about the show, craning my neck the wrong way, that I missed the opening look! Which was an impressive feat considering the first look featured a giant hand-crafted triceratops head. A peer mentioned when I told this story 'Never assume you know Rei Kawakubo’s next move, that’s when she’s got you.' They were right, I’d been hustled.
The opening looks were all kitted out with dino heads, crafted by Shimoda Masakatsa and sculpted from sailcloth and wireframe. This isn’t the first dinosaur reference we’ve seen from Kawakubo, previous seasons have seen toy-like versions tacked to suits and Air Force 1’s. I wonder what it is that draws Kawakubo to the motif? Perhaps a political commentary on animal extinction, perhaps it’s a comment on childlike innocence? Perhaps it just looks good. With Comme, with Kawakubo, it seems fruitless to guess. I’m sure my attempts are my own projections. The only notes that press were given to interpret was the phrase 'WHITE SHOCK Inner Rebel.'
Models walked throughout with a variation of Jurassic era headpieces, looking to the audience or looking behind as they walked, showing the motion in the headwear. For this portion of the show, prints were heavy and decorative; brick patterns, fifties-esque aged comic book strips, camo, pebble-dash and a marble-like print appeared on blazer, vest and hooded jacket. Jackets were given depth and texture with padding, which looked as though it had been scored into square patterns. Stuffing was exposed. It seemed as though the tailoring referenced an element of protection, conjuring images of dinosaur scales or a fort, while the prints harked to a nineties childhood and typical attributes of a young boy’s bedroom. Some of those brick pieces reminded one of the felt road mats one lays out for toddlers.
This patchwork like tiling continued into the WHITE SHOCK portion of the presentation as grids and bibs appeared. Bibs were stark white leather and in typical Comme form - globular swooped hems and apron-like front. Other bib-ish shapes came in the form of a backless blazer or an arm strapped in across the body. All these beautifully layer-able additions got one thinking of protection again. Just the motion of placing a bib on one-self is adding a protective layer. Certainly, taking a more melancholic perspective, these headpieces could be perceived as oversized masks - the wearer feels smaller, secluded, comforted. Why do these boys need safeguarding so?
Hair was long and candy coloured - mirroring the A/W 17 collection’s colourful mops - coincidently the last time we saw dinosaur referencing. The pastel tones suggesting there are more spritely child-like elements at play here, as too did the wide trouser in ice pink and the sculptural quilted track pant. Both fluid against the asymmetries and lines on upper torsos.
At the end of the show, these bright whites walked slowly - no finale just three individuals at separate paces. The white felt like a maturity from last season’s glitters and rainbows, even from the beginning printed portion of the show. My questions on dinosaurs, young boys, protection - all left unanswered, but nonetheless, this show was strong, stark, tactile - classic Kawakubo.