Comme des Garçons

There will always be something about your seat at a show that affects your perception, like watching a 3-D movie from the side of the theater. But at Comme des Garçons I could not have had a better vantage point. Instead of the usual side view, I was seated at the end of the long raised runway with the same frontal view as the cameras.

I mention this because, as it happens, there was no better way to see the absolute flatness of the collection. For the first look, Rei Kawakubo sent out a bright red felt coat that resembled a sandwich-board or a collage of paper-doll clothes. It was as if the brightly wigged model was stitched between two felt pieces, front and back. Then followed a short bright pink coat, both a lavender and electric-blue trouser suit—all completely flat and two-dimensional.

When Kawakubo added print to felted coats, dresses and jackets, it was equally flat—in both dimension and content. These included enlarged cliches like camouflage, leopard print, polka dots and tablecloth checks superimposed with even flatter suggestions of scribbled flowers.

It was then that the music came on for the first time in an otherwise silent show, save for the girls clogged footsteps. And with it came even more concentrated florals, such as rose prints as familiar as gift wrap or wallpaper. At one point, a model swaddled in a kind of stiff catsuit and mask that covered her eyes nearly met calamity at the foot of the platform runway.

And what’s a show without sparkling eveningwear? This time, of course, sequined in a series of ultra-large dresses so flat that they came complete with the visible shoulder-tabs of a paper doll. Perhaps this was Kawakubo’s comment on the way we observe fashion and everything else that goes on in the world, reducing it all to a two-dimensional image—or flat screen. Or perhaps she was simply reducing design to its flat, fundamental forms—like only she can.

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