Aren’t there enough anarchists in Paris, with the Gilets Jaunes planning more disruption for the 10th Saturday in a row and violent protestors getting in on the act, too?
Come Saturday morning, shop windows will be boarded up once again, while on Friday night police were already gearing for more trouble.
Comme des Garçons’s Rei Kawakubo has been bending and breaking the rules of clothing for five decades.
She has challenged the status quo through radical references, silhouette shake-ups, and transformative technical mastery.
Her visionary acts of fashion rebellion might have been consecrated by the Metropolitan Museum in New York with Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between, but the revolution continues, often in noir.
Back in 1982, Kawakubo presented the provocative, all-black everything Destroy collection in Paris and shook the fashion world to its core.
At the time, it was condemned by the French press as “Hiroshima chic” but it was hailed by her growing cult of “crows”.
37 years later and she presented another poetic provocative, (mostly) all-black everything.
On the eve of the tenth week of the Giles Jaunes protests, Rei Kawakubo harnessed the mood of Paris and beyond with a defiant demonstration of creative resistance before reminding us that there’s a beauty to be found in this darkness.
“Finding beauty in the dark, there is no light without dark.” Rei Kawakubo
Rei Kawakubo clearly thought there was room for a few more dark rebels, sending out a goth punk collection complete with inky black lips and fingernails and models wearing jangling harnesses, grabbing their crotches and giving the finger to photographers like a bunch of petulant teenagers.
Guests were guided to their seats inside the underground venue in the darkness. Packed in tightly with the bass of the LA-based “Australian Death Pop” band VOWWS throbbing through our rib cages, the mood was ominous. The catwalk pit photographers huddled around an intense, flash spotlight. Under Rei’s spell, we waited in the darkness. And waited. Then, when the live VOWWS performance kicked in, the catwalk became a swaggering, snarling club dancefloor.
There’s been a punk undercurrent running through Paris this season, with latex rippling and snapping its way through some collections, and classic clothing that’s been torn-up or somehow corrupted. That current has been running counter to the gentle, slouchy tailoring and warm colors that have been lapping over the runways, pushing streetwear out to sea.
Models had an after-dark beauty makeover of black lipstick, smudged eyeliner, and dyed hair -- one model had a green arrow shaved into his head, the other an “R.I.P.” message -- but it wasn’t goth, glam, punk or dark electro. It was ever genre-defying Comme des Garçons. Beneath the spiked shackle necklaces and harnesses, there was two-for-one tailoring trickery that fused layers, there was cut, pasted and manipulated binary-blurring clubwear, and a first look at the Comme customized Air Jordan. The final modeled flipped his middle finger at the photographer pit. We all loved it. Only Rei Kawakubo can tell us to fuck off and receive applause. Then the VOWWS set ended, Rei turned out her light of creative resistance and we have plunged into darkness again. Allow Comme des Garçons to be your lighthouse, better times wait ahead.”
said i-D Magazine.
Tailored blazers and coats were cut from velvet, nibbled by moths or styled over dresses emblazoned with chaotic monochrome illustrations.
Leather chaps and fishnet base layers drew influence from the androgynous bent of musicians like Siouxsie Sioux, Robert Smith, Sid Vicious and Marc Almond, with fringe and barbed wire-print underlining the nods to glam and punk alike.
Barring those bright flashes, the show was one-note — and bordering on cliché — with all the stomping, seething young models who were also comically bad actors.
Although this show, and its gothic tones, was meant to channel anger about what is happening in the world, in particular populism and the decay of democracy, the mood seemed out of place, given this moment in French history, where chaos and anger have become the norm, erupting, with regularity, every Saturday.
It's just that If you’re not angry, then you’re not paying attention!
Images: Courtesy of StyleZeitgeist
Photographer: Matthew Reeves.