The Fall 2019 collection by Rei Kawakubo

Rei Kawakubo has never been a fashion dreamer, being her creations long far from being a mere, ephemeral research of empty aesthetism.
This time all malign forces- of fashion, or more likely, of the world- are portrayed into Comme des Garçons abstract product in a “gathering of shadows”, as she cryptically wrote in her one-liner show notes.
Kawakubo’s strokes of genius always convey a message whose meaning is tough to understand. She stays true to her primordial idea: subversive and provocative in the most outstanding way, yet in the silent fashion language that can speak only to those who are willing to listen to it.

She doesn’t explicate what the shadows are. Without any clear guidelines she lets us the freedom to interpret her creations. But, that the show was unsettling and threatening is indisputable. The models – all black-clad- wearing rubber armours and executioner’s hoods formed a circle in the center of the floor, looking like a coven of witches in ritual ceremony. Then, the soundscape background: it began with sweeter notes that gradually moved on the beating of militaristic machinery, clashing sounds, a dictatorial indistinct male voice. To change the notes, a chant of children singing the English Victorian poem: All things bright and beautiful/ The Lord God made them all.

It can clearly be a reference to natural environment destruction at the hands of mankind, strictly related to military choices. Destruction and deconstruction are the leitmotif in her collection, made of disfiguration, cut-outs and mutilations, developed through unusual shapes and protuberances. The use of synthetical fibres -rubbish-like material – conveys the idea of a sinister beauty, a man-made realm.

In a fashion environment full of brands that aim at exhibiting, exasperating luxury and showing off -without excluding a vain attitude that is innate in fashion-, Kawakubo’s parade of poor fashion results to be as much disturbing as ironic, in order to awake consciousness. Hope comes in the end, explicated by her brief description: Many small shadows come together to make one powerful thing. The witches raised their heads and looked into the light above.
Human potential can be then crucial for good as well for evil. It’s a wake-up call from one of the greatest fashion’s seers: it’s now the time to stand up and make the difference, not to ignore.

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