The King Is Naked for Comme des Garçons Homme Plus at Paris Menswear SS17

"The King Is Naked - Shout out Aloud - Beauty is in the eye."

Fashion has been endlessly inspired by Fairytales in one way or another, ever since the turn of the last Century. A relatively conventional route one might add, that was until Rei Kawakubo showcased her latest offering for Comme des Garçons Homme Plus. For Spring 2017 the unconventional Japanese queen of fashion turned to a different source: Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Emperor's New Clothes," a parable ingrained in society's consciousness. It's the tale of an emperor hoodwinked by two charlatans into paying a king's ransom for absolutely nothing - the emperor is convinced that he has purchased finery that appears invisible to those who are incompetent, stupid or unfit for office, when simply he is parading through the streets naked.

Andersen may very well have penned his classic in reference to today's internet-driven culture. Never before has news travelled so fast because of it. It seems that each day were are informed, although at times pressured into knowing the latest up-and-coming designer/trend/musician/actor to what? look cool? and as a collective we buy into them without even giving them a second thought. We're all guilty of it, myself included. It's the world we live in today, it's fast-paced to say the least and like I said, the internet as great as it is, has contributed a great deal to that. We've been led to a docile, homogenised society. "The emperor's new clothes" fast became an idiom  - and it's use to denounce all that is fashion as vitriolic. Generally, the fashion it's used to describe is the stuff that doesn't look the way other clothes do, expensive clothes that don't appear especially so. Clothes with tears and holes, unfinished hems and raw edges, deliberately synthetic and cheap-looking. Rebelling against everything that has been conceived as "luxury" in past times. I remember earlier this year reading a post on 1 Granary (by the students of Central Saint Martins), who were questioned on what luxury means to them? Almost all of them were quick to answer that the time and hours spent working on a piece is more important than the name printed on the label or the material it's made from. A £500 polyester t-shirt was the item in question. The link here.

Transparent PVC invisibly covered pinstriped boxer shorts
Rei Kawakubo and her Comme des Garçons label as impressive at it's been over the last thirty-five years since debuting at Paris Fashion Week has quite often had the fashion press frown, concentrate and try to extract their own meaning and understanding of her clothes - desperate to see the actual message. One can wonder whether the brilliance of Kawakubo was toying with that idea. The same way the subjects of the Emperor tried valiantly to see his nonexistent garments. Kawakubo therefore showed transparent clothing - mostly entirely clear PVC or a translucent rubber-coated material, it created this sense of ghost garments, suspending details like collars and buttons as if they were floating around the models' torsos. The garments that were made from layers of clear PVC did display much of the naked body, striped cotton poplin made for what seemed like Comme boxer shorts used for pinched suits, as if outerwear had been X-rayed. It really was a fantastic silhouette. Not all of the emperor's clothes were see-through though, some very strong pieces did have some opacity. They came in the form of monochromatic Nike Dunks and suits printed in collaboration with the Italian decorative arts company, Fornasetti. The pattern on the suiting was their signature etched faces, mouths, eyes. Perhaps hinting at the many-a-crowd coming to witness the emperor in all his glory. Clothed or naked. Perhaps more commercial, but I recall Adrien Joffe (Business partner and husband to Rei Kawakubo) say that 97% of the catwalk pieces make it onto the shop floor, whether that was just the more creative, more challenging womenswear designs I'm unsure of. Commerciality is never an issue with Comme though, because their diffusion Shirt and Play lines do exceptionally well. Long-time collaborator and wig-maker Julian D'ys was also responsible again for those extraordinary crowns that models sported on top of their heads.










Images courtesy of Dazed Digital and Vogue Runway

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