With her collections for Comme des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo lets her clothes do the talking. Thus, her Spring Summer 2017 for Comme des Garçons Homme Plus is featuring her slogan on the pieces; her message being "The King is naked, Shout out aloud, Beauty is in the eyes/ The King is naked, It's my Fashion".
This collection is, in a way, a new storytelling, decoding the wardrobe of a naked king, a kind of distorted fairy tale: see-through pvc clothes with hair crowns or a collab with Nike. The least we can say is that it's not the typical garments for a king. But with Kawakubo, you can expect a lot of pump & circumstance and a huge dose of "Expect the Unexpected". This collection is about showing ceremonial/more classical tailoring, the staples of a "gentleman"and disrupting them. What lies under? What kind of beauty? This transparency, these body parts. What about them? Reshaping the body? Or targeting the fashion system who loves to buy über-expensive things looking like they cost nothing? Or making them "transparent" or "invisible" while all these fashion peeps want to be seen more than anything? They look transparent but are made of complex materials, invisible at first glance. The statement is out there, the slogan says it all: "The King is naked, Shout out loud, Beauty is in the eyes". It is a complex storytelling or perhaps only fantasy & beautiful clothes.
In this SS17 collection, she is showing a tailored silhouette going from hybrid see-through pieces to a kind of abstraction. A hybrid tailoring as the garments are almost fading away to let the models naked with only striped boxers. There is in this collection a huge work on abstract prints with of course, the famous Comme des polka dots going through multiple hybrid phases (if you take a closer look you could see that some of these dots are half-faces (nose & red lips), circular shapes such as astrological representations of the sun or small & big red dots adorning the "naked king" uniforms. Rei Kawakubo loves to deconstruct till the abstraction; a trench coat made of pvc far from the traditional gabardine a monarch could wear or if there's such it is embellished by pvc coming out of cut-outs. The only visible parts of the garments lies on a simple sewing, the rest is invisible, transparent like a hand-painted net checks or a meshing structure like the remains of a knitted vest simply worn over some boxy shorts. No to forget a strong take on pajamas with the presence in numerous silhouettes of a poplin striped pale blue cotton.
This collection definitely left us speechless. Are the clothes more important than the message or on the contrary, do they have to stand and support the message? A distorted pump & circumstance collection made for would be kings who will after all end up "naked"! Kawakubo is playing as usual with the codes of menswear, purposely giving us a lot of think and in a way, playing with us too! This whole thing makes us think about something: do we need beautiful clothes to make us visible & to show the personality of the wearer? Or should we wear "transparent" or "invisible" clothes - like the wardrobe of this king is suggesting - to show our inner beauty, to let our very own beauty shine? We don't really have the answer but one thing for sure, we are finding this last solution quite seductive.
Pictures by Chloé Le Drezen via Dazed Digital
Words by Yann Sackville-West & Charles Margueritte