A Comme des Garçons show is always unexpected, but this time it was more unexpected than expected. Rei Kawakubo has just finished her exploration of the world of Orlando for the Vienna Opera, thus completing several seasons devoted to costume on the runway. This conclusion was echoed with the first exit walking to the sounds of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
But, this collection was a butterfly that flitted about, asking questions though revealing very few answers. Each model walked to her own soundtrack — a personal melody if you like — and left us with the job of connecting the dots. Most of the models wore veils, not exactly marriage veils, more veils of protection. In a contemporary society that is afraid of breathing and touching one another, the veils made sense. The clothes were also defensive. They were protective cocoons, which gave the wearer distance, so that any potential physical interaction was annulled, and therefore avoided. These were clothes to be alone in. Clothes to be seen in but not heard, and clothes to question.
Kawakubo recycled iconic themes from her past collections in the execution of the looks, which made us ask: Was this a collection about upcycling, a collection about frugality, or a collection about looking back to find answers? Whatever the intention, it surely raised the political questions of the #metoo movement, and the importance for women to be treated equally, without touching.
The experience was mystical, if purposefully disjointed, which saw Kawakubo explore her feminist side. As if to say there will be no questions asked, only protections, empowerment, and achievement.