Comme des Garçons is the last and perhaps most well known of the Japanese designers showing in Paris today.  Rei Kawakubo has been the inspiration, mentor, and tutor for a number of designers coming from the islands and her own collections are considered masterpieces of art even if what comes down the runway is nowhere close to practical. With today’s show, she goes over the top and out of bounds with an all-red collection she refers to as “Blood and Roses.” One doesn’t need to sit through more than three of these ensembles to understand why.

As always, Ms. Kawakubo’s runway clothes are larger than life sculptures that capture the imagination and force us to think different about shape, design, and how it flows (or doesn’t) with the human body. As a result, each piece is its own silhouette. Large to the point of excess, she knows one would never wear these exact pieces on a day-to-day basis (though it would be incredibly  cool if someone did). Blowing the looks up to such enormous size is like looking at something under a microscope: it helps us to understand how the garment is made and what it is designed to do.

This season, Kawakubo explores two primary trends: strap dresses and ruffles (thankfully not in the same piece). We’ve seen strap pieces and trailing ribbons here and there all season, but it’s not until Kasakobo elevates the look out of proportion that we realize all the structure and architecture taking place underneath the look. As she presents the dresses, there is a careful construction at work to make sure there is not too much weight in one place, or enough support in another. The aesthetic is dramatic and perhaps even a little frightening. When she takes on ruffles, she forces us to look at layering and how easily and quickly the technique can get out of control. With voluminous ruffle upon voluminous ruffle, one might wonder if models were required to pass a weight lifting test before being cast to walk in the show!

One more myrthful element are the extremely large hats that remind one in this setting of Little Red Riding hood. This isn’t the first time today we’ve seen over-sized head gear, but this look is something that, once pared down for retail, could actually be rather popular.

Comme des Garçons is one of those labels that leaves fashion novices scratching their heads. “No one would ever wear that,” they scream. Yet this may be one of the most valuable labels in all of fashion as she pushes us to think, to see larger than life, and understand both what is possible and sometimes even what we should stop doing. Bright, artistic, and glossy, this Comme des Garçons is another one for the story books.

Photo credit: Yanni Vlamos

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