Comme des garcons reflects on the world in a maximalist masterclass

“SPIRITUAL WORLD. White is symbolic of prayer” was the phrase etched on the show notes of fashion staple Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garcons Homme Plus AW24 collection.

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The phrase seemed to serve as a mantra to go alongside Kawakubo’s examination of the current state of the world. As 40 models walked down the runway in an age of war, hate and global warming, a stark contrast was provided by playful and androgynous silhouettes seemingly intended for a purer world than our own.

Kawakubo’s thoughts on the state of the world were similarly reflected in the mainline women’s ready-to-wear show, simply entitled “Anger”. The Japanese design legend said in the show’s press statement “This collection is about my present state of mind. I have anger against everything in the world”.

Image credit: Alamy

A Comme des Garcons runway is often a showcase of vivid, striking colours used to create a playful tone. Kawakubo’s mindset seems to have changed this, as the women’s and men’s shows alike were both almost entirely made up of black-and-white looks. However, CDG’s avant-garde approach to shape remains, with gigantic maximalist dresses, ruffled flared trousers and derbies with extra wide soles seen throughout the two shows.

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The theme shared between the two seems to be an alternative vision of masculinity and femininity. Men in soft textured cardigans and peaceful neutral tones. Women in powerful silhouettes with raw edges. This reversal of traditional gender roles may stem from Kawakubo’s anger at the current state of the world, and a strong desire to change it however she can.

Styling for the women’s show had a sort of renaissance theme, pannier skirts and pompadour style wigs filled the collection, potentially referencing powerful women throughout history in Kawakubo’s bid to reverse gender norms in fashion, with all-black garments reinforcing the aura of power throughout the show.

Image credit: Alamy

Meanwhile, the men’s show has less historical referencing, favouring a more conceptual approach to Kawakubo’s vision of the future. Shrunken blazers with pleated skirts, shredded knits with ruffled trousers and a collaboration with Nike for a new Air Max model create a distinct look throughout the show that is very different from traditional menswear.

Through these two shows Rei Kawakubo cements her place as one of the best designers of the modern era with an acute statement on gender, power and our modern world and even at 81 years of age she shows no signs of stopping.


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