Words are elements, little tools, that, combined and recombined, can help us putting together sentences and coming up with a message. Images can be employed in the same way, even though, in our digital world, visual messages seem to have a bigger, deeper and more immediate impact. Fashion has the great advantage (when it is willing to do so...) of being able to tell complex narratives and intriguing stories with strong visual images.
In yesterday's post we saw for example a fashion designer claiming he was angry at the state the world is in and doing so via bright colours that got gradually tinged with dark tones. Rei Kawakubo presented instead a similar message, but in a softer and maybe more poetic way with her Comme des Garçons Homme Plus A/W 2016 collection.
The floral hairdresses donned by the models spread a message of love and grace, but the tailoring incorporated elements borrowed from armors and reworked and reintegrated in the suits.
There were no helmets, chainmail and gauntlets, but couters (plates that guarded the elbow), spaulders (plates that covered the shoulder and part of the upper arm), pauldrons (dome-shaped pieces that covered the shoulder and the armpit) were recreated in fabrics to radically transform the sleeves of jackets and coats with soft articulated pieces.
In some cases each part of the armor was created in a different fabrics (at times three or four textiles - including jacquards and floral brocades - in the same jacket) to give a more joyful and less threatening aspect to the designs.
The cuisse, that is the plate that curved over the thighs and protected them was reinvented as pockets; poleyns, the plates that originally covered the knees in armours, were reintegrated in trousers. In a way this collection could be interpreted as a tale of two armors since it incorporated the metal plates of Renaissance armors and the techniques behind the protective gear donned by samurais.
These modern armors were made in fabrics and therefore they lost their protective aim to turn into weapons of seduction (consider the bright colours and vivid textiles...), the main idea was, after all, that of creating an "armor of peace", as Kawakubo called the collection, and profess a Flower Power pacifism through armoured and tailored suits (for many of us a suit is a sort of armor; but for Kawakubo it is also a blank canvas that can be endlessly reinvented, while the definition "suit of armor" can be interpreted in an entirely new way).
The level of technicality behind the collection was particularly intriguing because it played with armoured articulations (employed also on some of the shoes) and, to a certain extent, with anatomy as well. The most interesting point, though, was the fact that most pieces remained wearable and desirable for women as well (that's what genuinely "genderless" designs look like...).
There was also an arty note in the presentation: the floral hairdresses at times matched with black garments under the chiaroscuro light gave the runway a sense of Caravaggio-esque beauty, here and there reminiscent of the palette of "Bacchus" or "Boy with a Basket of Fruit".
The presentation also had a circular rhythm since it went from black to colourful and back to black with leather armoured pieces, though the models carrying colourful bouquet of flowers at the very end of the show seemed a delicately silent homage not just to Paris but to all those places (and people) suffering and being in desperate need of a peaceful and graceful protective blanket.
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