Last season was brutal, referencing war and pain, so we were ready for an uncomfortable ride from the outset at Comme des Gar?ons. This season we were treated to a ritual, though I’m unsure as to what kind of spell Rei cast on us.
Junya Watanabe opened with the raucous proto-propaganda of Grimes’ last single, ‘We Appreciate Power’, which she claimed was based on North Korean prop-pop group Moranbong, but in reality sounded like a teen-angst J-Pop song. It was perfect for the girl that was conjured up on the runway today. She was a love letter to old-school Harajuku, East-meets-West, doll-eyed, big-haired, and stomping in silver cowboy boots — truly eclectic style.
Was it a coincidence that the inventor of silver gaffer tape, Ross Lowell, passed away seven days ago and Yamamoto had three strips of silver gaffer on his invitation, though none at all in the show? Probably. But then, we are always left trying to decode the workings of Yamamoto, who, in all fairness, simply makes some of the most painfully beautiful clothes on the market.
Beams of light fell into sharp round white spots all over the runway, like giant polka dots or a constellation of bright stars. This lighting punctuated the collection, with the models dipping in and out of the spotlights, so to speak, while the music insisted, “I saw the moonlight on you, I didn’t want to wake you up.”
The first few exits at Dries Van Noten served as a continuation from his fall men's collection, which took place in Paris less than six weeks ago. And, in fact, they included some of the same garments, in particular the grid puffer scarves and suiting — and why not? The system is moving so fast, and it is no secret that the Van Noten women’s customer is equally at home wearing his men’s as she is wearing his women’s (one need only look around the venue to see this), so it seemed fitting that the designer himself addressed this so directly, if indirectly.
Entering the show space today could only be described as stepping through the looking glass into an underground dreamworld. The work of Peruvian artist Pablo Amaringo was used to great effect; his exotic imagined animals in rich hyper-saturated colors were the perfect backdrop to the clothes.
There’s a bar in Shibuya called Grandfather’s that has been around for over 40 years, with a huge collection of vinyl. You can request music by writing a song name on a beer mat and handing it to the lady who controls the record player. Her knowledge of the records and where they are placed (imagine finding a single disc among 2000 records) is astonishing, and the music is non-stop, with track after track blending into one another.
An industrial throb, humming and rustling, punctuated by feedback guitar squeals, greeted us in the packed dark basement for Comme des Gar?ons Homme Plus. It felt more like an underground club than a runway venue. The path was barely visible as we snaked our way into position to wait with a satisfying mechanical heartbeat lulling us into a false sense of security. A loud drum kicked us into reality as the music and models burst into action.