Quite often the seeds for a womenswear collection may be scattered on the menswear runways (well, things will soon change for quite a few brands out there since some houses will have both collections featured in one show...). Designers may indeed reuse a theme, a print or a colour palette in both the collections to create continuity between their productions. Yet Rei Kawakubo has her own views about continuity.
So it happened that the flowery armors of peace she explored in the Comme des Garçons Homme Plus A/W 2016 designs and that were a message of peace in a world in turmoil, became voluminously cumbersome constructions that, landing on the womenswear runway, subtly hinted at revolution. "Landed" is the proper term to describe the collection as the garments transformed the bodies of the models into huge monsters.
Floral fabrics that looked salvaged from an upholstery shop, but actually came from a Haute Couture factory in Lyon, home of France's historical silk industry, were employed to create samurai-like armors that could be reconfigured via utilitarian metal buttons.
The constructions dramatically varied going from streamlined to wide and wider: Kawakubo stated she was imagining punks living in the 18th century (see also the powdered wigs reinvented in black by Julien d'Ys and combined with mohawks), a time of constant revolutions.
While she hinted at this century via floral fabrics, history was hiding in some of the shapes and silhouettes, with bits and pieces looking vaguely reminiscent of pannier skirts, corsets, bustles, and elongated sleeves (that also transformed the arms of the models into sinister lobster claws), covered in some cases in ruffles or in punky bondage straps. Pink vinyl was another reference to punk, after all pink, as Paul Simonon stated, is "the only true rock'n'roll colour".
Through these combinations of times and looks, the designer came up with singular studies on gigantic shoulders or in collaging fabrics and clashing floral patterns into tent-like structures. It was as if Kawakubo had taken the satirical illustrations lampooning the French macaronis in their extravagant clothes and massive wigs and reinvented their looks.
You may argue this is not literal ready-to-wear, but, while the menswear collection hinted at how certain key elements can be translated into wearable garments, if you managed to concentrate on what was hiding under the robotically architectural armors, breastplates and scales of fabrics, you would realise it may have been something less cumbersome and more wearable such as a floral suit or a short dress.
The voluminous silhouettes and the colours of some of these looks also pointed at historical decadence that could maybe be read as the decadence currently infesting the fashion industry.
This punky Waltz of the Flowers (it featured a remixed soundtrack that combined Tchaikovsky's piece from "The Nutcracker" with xylophone elements) could therefore be interpreted as invention in its purest form and as a way to sprinkle some radicalism on the runways in an age of copies and prompt critics and fashion fans to stop and ponder not just about the state of fashion, but also about the high quality fabrics we may be losing as historical factories close down.
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