Dark Forces at Comme des Garçons

Last season was brutal, referencing war and pain, so we were ready for an uncomfortable ride from the outset at Comme des Garçons. This season we were treated to a ritual, though I’m unsure as to what kind of spell Rei cast on us.

The lighting danced around on counter-balanced pivots, following the models as they walked rather complicated steps, casting multiple shadows around their feet and bathing them in rays of light. They came together in groups of four, as if mimicking a masonic rite, standing ‘on the square,’ before leaving. The sound was an assault on the senses, mixing ambient from Phillip Wilkerson with parts of the Dracula soundtrack, the sounds of bombs dropping and radios detuning, and snippets of the Anglican hymn ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ sung by children.

Fabrication was rooted in subculture and fetish, with fishnets a plenty, plus rubber, leather, eyelets, and swaths of black, plaid and violet. Rei’s girls were never exposed; they wore their outfits like suits of armor. Shapes ballooned and deflated, with circles cut out, extra arms sprouting, and tiny door handles, latches and cherubs appliquéd on the garments like talismans. Plaids were printed with faces, and appeared to have ‘no war’ written over the eyelids.

It was a powerful performance, that brought together the girls rather than focusing on them as individuals. It was a sisterhood, a coven, a community. We were treated to a rare finale, with the girls emerging in darkness, standing in a circle, and then the lights came on concentrating in one circular bathed spot. The square became the circle in a kind of sacred geometry. The dark undertones seemed to have a simple solution: come together.