Happy Wanderers

Comme des Garçons shows a colourful collection for the modern nomad. Seriously

Is this Rei Kawakubo being cheeky? In the time of a pandemic and she creates a collection for Comme des Garçons Homme Plus called Nomad? Is it a good time to be itinerant? Or does Ms Kawakubo truly have a sense of humour, contrary to what we are led to believe? With borders shut to vaccine-rejecters, not many nations welcome those who want to come and go freely. Yet, Ms Kawaklubo wants to evoke the happy-go-lucky sartorial inclination of the wayfaring. To be sure, this is not gypsy-nomadic although the clothes has a smidgen of gypsy air about them. And joyfulness. Is Ms Kawakubo suggesting that while we may not be able to roam in the physical world, we can go awandering in our imagination, and certainly in the world wide web? Do we still remember that?

The show is held in Tokyo, in the CDG headquarters, known to be a serious office and studio space. It’s an early reveal, at least much earlier than it would be if CDG kept to the Paris calendar. The barely-discernible set of what looks like patchwork of recycled boards could have been borrowed from Dover Street Market. According to Japanese media, models walk in a dark space and halts under a single spotlight. To better offer no hint as to where the runway is sited? CDG is not a label that stages flashy shows. Even in Paris, their presentations are mostly modest affairs. Even now, it’s hard to tell that Ms Kawakubo and her team have stayed put in Tokyo.

This is a modest 32-look collection, built almost entirely on tailoring. Not bashful, however, are the suiting, a category that was expected to come back years ago, even before the arrival of COVID, and clearly not what men’s haute couture is keen to advance, with, hitherto, unclear take-up rate. Ms Kawakubo has a far less buttoned-up approach to tailoring although often times they look like pieces from long forgotten times. It’s the tactile quality, whether in the fabrics or the finishings, that attracts. And more of that can be seen again this season: coats of various lengths delightfully making layering an exercise in exploring textures.

We do wish that the models would remove their outers to show what is worn beneath. Are those really dresses (with cowlnecks, no less!)? Are those shirts or tunics? Or neither? Is the suit crumpled or is that the fabric? Although the collection is based on dark colours, many are delightfully paired with a shock of colour. Whatever her former proclamations about black and the obligations towards it, Ms Kawakubo is a cunning colourist too. Who’d guess that for autumn/winter, she’d even allow the colour-blocking of four contrasting brights in one garment! Are nomads usually this colour-loving or aware of colour relationships? Or, is Rei Kawakubo truly in a wandering mood, her mind not a permanent abode for even her favourite black?

Photos: Comme des Garçons

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