An industrial throb, humming and rustling, punctuated by feedback guitar squeals, greeted us in the packed dark basement for Comme des Garçons Homme Plus. It felt more like an underground club than a runway venue. The path was barely visible as we snaked our way into position to wait with a satisfying mechanical heartbeat lulling us into a false sense of security. A loud drum kicked us into reality as the music and models burst into action.
I used to frequent heavy metal and goth bars, not necessarily for the music, but for the sense of solidarity. They were places full of misfits and loners. You could put on make-up, wear women’s clothing, and not feel out of place. I had a friend at the time who used to go out in full metal drag because it was the only way that he could get served in bars. I was always more subtle — a touch of eyeliner, some mesh, and a studded necklace. So Rei Kawakubo’s’s collection today felt nostalgic for me. I knew these boys so full of attitude, unafraid to wear fishnets and skirts, because they were in their safe place, the underground bar with the noise they called home. Of course, I could never have dreamed of the couture-like attention to detail and beauty that she extracted, but nonetheless it felt decidedly comforting.
The atmosphere was electric, and the pace blistering, as one after another models stomped out confronting the audience and wall of photographers. Trousers were scarce, with the focus on the upper body, jackets and accessories, which felt authentic. The current trend for gender fluidity was masterfully handled, in a more personal way than most: Kawakubo herself lives in perfecto jackets and is rarely out of black. I’m sure our youths had similar safe places. The final exit gave the photographers the finger before scowling and scampering off. Oh bondage, up yours!