The Emperor’s New Clothes. What a motto for fashion right now. Each season we watch new brands, which are, in reality, largely based on old principals, appear and win column inches and headlines declaring them ‘revolutionary’ or ‘empowering’. Fashion, especially the media, relies on the new - ‘The young designers you need to know right now!’ ‘The innovators upturning the system!’ ‘The graduates whose names you need to learn today!’ Yawn. Show me some actual change - some actual awareness of the world that exists beyond the fashion bubble. Show me a designer who speaks to anyone outside of the fashion bubble and genuinely galvanises them to be more forward thinking or expressive in their clothing choices and I’ll listen. I’m sick of the old labeled at the new.
I wouldn’t presume to know what Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons is thinking - few can and that’s what makes her work so special - but it seems she’s musing on similar themes. Today, her S/S 17 menswear outfits came emblazoned with slogans reading ‘The King is Naked'. A large amount of her collection was transparent - as if she’d barely wanted to make clothes that exist in this climate at all. Kawakubo has talked before of her disillusionment with fashion - recent runway shows have suggested an interest in making sculptures and artworks rather than any genuinely wearable garments. Over the course of her show the clothing started to melt and fade away. We saw garments covered with square graphics. Later, they were mimicked with garments made just of squares of thread - barely present, barely real. There’s so little sentiment, emotion or meaning in fashion today. But there’s a lot of product. At Comme des Garcons there was a lot of the former and not much of the latter. Sure, some of that Fornasetti tailoring was fabulous, but it was the garments that only half existed that caught the eye. For the finale, models emerged just in their pants - with sheer plastic garments on top. We clapped - but what were we clapping? Not clothes. Not fashion. But something to actually be excited about - ideas.