Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garcons’ collections tend to be analyzed ad nauseam — no surprise given their enigmatic nature. Her upcoming retrospective at the Met will certainly be the most exhaustive, definitive analysis yet, the prep work for which must be enormously intensive for the curators, and no doubt taxing for the designer.
So the inveterate contrarian put out a men’s collection today that offered a respite from arch intellectualization, grown-up examination, political extrapolation. Kawakubo seemed to beseech a return to childhood, to boyhood, with all the carefree, puerile playtime it connotes.
To start, she outfitted her models in pink, green, and blue fluorescent bobs — an emasculating gesture, if ever there were. Then, large plastic toy figures — dinosaurs, trains, trucks, cars — began appearing in 3D form, most prominently plopped on the back of traditional black blazers, as well as on aprons and the tippy toes of black and white sneakers and high-tops, CDG’s shoe collab with Nike.
Trousers and shorts seemed to get roomier and roomier throughout the course of the collection, indeed disappearing altogether from some of the more immodest looks — as kids are wont to do with restrictive items of clothing. Black shirts, too, were cropped and tied together under jackets, baring the midriff in a nifty bit of gender-based role reversal. Later jackets, of the evening variety, were embellished with black floral motifs.
What was the thinking behind all this infantilization, for Kawakubo’s sudden nostalgia? We’ll probably never know precisely — and that’s the point. One thing it’s most likely not, on this American inauguration day, is more political grandstanding, for better or worse. In other words, not an orange wig in sight.