A cube drifts down the runway, all four sides clad in theatrical red curtains, and the curtains slowly begin to rise, revealing a contraption made of metal and lights that holds a single model sitting in stasis waiting for his cue to get ‘out of the box.’ In his glittering diamanté-encrusted suit, he is reminiscent of David Bowie’s character Thomas Jerome Newton in Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 film ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth,’ who sits watching multiple screens at once, absorbing American culture.
A runway show split over four acts, with four different lighting set-ups, four distinct soundtracks, and so much more. With Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Gar?ons, we’re often left with little more than guesswork as we extract meaning, if any, so skillfully concealed. Today, however, we had a clue: she's recently been tapped to design the costumes for a new production of Virginia Woolf's gender-fluid, time-traveling classic Orlando at the Vienna State Opera — clearly on her mind at today's outing.
Opening to the farmyard sounds of a rooster crowing a wake-up call, Watanabe sent out his first look replete with an oversized tote bag stamped with the logo of the infamous London restaurant St John. The restaurant began life as the food side of Soho’s The French House, a bar frequented by the likes of Francis Bacon, Dylan Thomas and Lucian Freud, before moving into St John street in Clerkenwell near to Smithfield’s meat market. They specialize in ‘nose to tail’ cooking, using offal and parts of the animal that aren’t usually used.
Dries Van Noten took us to a venue we had never been to before today, something very rare on the fashion week treadmill, and then turned our expectations upside down. It was composed of a series of vast white ‘perfect’ spaces for a gallery show. Or indeed, a runway show, that ended in a long intimate corridor bathed in hot pink light. And this was the master touch: taking us out of our comfort zone and dragging us into the unique world of his collection.
A Yohji Yamamoto show comes with certain expectations and, in the same breath, certain unknowns. We know that he is the undisputed king of all things black, and that his garments are poetry in motion, but something he doesn’t usually get credit for is his astute eye, and hand, for print.
The invitation was a layered sculptural object signed Thomas Houseago, a Los Angeles-based artist who has his first retrospective in France at the moment in the Musée d’Art Moderne. The museum shares a common courtyard with the Palais de Tokyo, Owens’ venue of choice where we found ourselves today, face-to-face with a huge Houseago sculpture that occupied the space between the two museums, dominating the runway scenography. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right?
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.