The soundtrack for this mind-blowing collection was taken from David Lynch’s cinematic masterpiece, Blue Velvet. The show ended with Roy Orbison crooning the theme tune, whilst a crescendo of marvellously ‘grotesque’ silhouettes walked the catwalk, rendered in – what else but – blue velvet.
This collection wasn’t so much about what lies beneath, but what lies beyond. Dresses were swagged on pelmets; a couple of them strongly resembled an actual pair of curtains. A surrealist trope, the mystery of a pair of velvet curtains appears throughout Lynch’s work, lurking both in the corner of Isabelli Rossellini’s apartment in Blue Velvet and Lynch’s horror filled Black Lodge in Twin Peaks. Prompting questions around what reality really is, the curtains here shrouded the women. Some of the looks overtook the models so completely that they more or less completely disappeared. Swallowed up by fashion itself, the dream consumed the girl.
The models wore red wigs that looked soaked in blood. The reminded one both of the Wicked Witch of the West nightmare mum, who paints herself red in a moment of hysteria in Lynch’s Wild at Heart, and Lynch’s Crazy Clown Time tune. Disturbing and surreal, the dresses here were seemingly upside down, trenches were manically collaged in faded leopard print, whilst one unwieldy white PVC look saw a silhouette oozing, so one shoulder was higher than the other. Ruffles ran vertically and funnel necks were ergonomically patchworked, trimmed with feathers and fur. Paper added volume. Stuffed under the storm flap of a trench, it was like a bustier for the shoulder line. This is the designer who created the legendary 1997 Lumps and Bumps collection, which challenged how western fashion contorts the female body for the male gaze. A true feminist, Rei Kawakubo added her own lumps and bumps in new unexpected places. The Queen of postmodernity – the question has to always be: ‘why not?’
This collection may have been about mystery and disappearance, but it was also about liberation. As violin strings reached horror movie fever pitch, girls silently drifted towards us like looming icebergs. Be afraid, but not of these girls – they are just the messengers. They are telling you to set yourself free. Go, do it.