Rei Kawakubo doesn't need a catwalk show comprising of sixty outfits to let you know her proposal for the season ahead. Her S/S 18 collection, entitled 'Multidimensional Graffiti', comprised fifteen looks. Business as usual, yes - but with catwalk shows seemingly feeling longer and longer, it's worth noting what a creative can achieve when pushed to edit. Operating almost like couture, these fifteen looks will also benefit the brand credentials of the label's diffusion line Play, its fragrance line - and its collaboration with Converse, and the such like. Desire is the name of the game - and Comme des Garçons's brand family remains desirable because of the power of this show.
A different location for Comme des Garçons this season, with a mad dash across town, we arrived at The Russian Embassy. The show's first dress was covered with prints from the canvases of 16th century artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo. With faces and features made up of fruit and vegetables, this was surrealism 400 years before surrealism. As the following looks exited, each look was printed with the art of another artist. Some naïve and some kitsch, the soundtrack mirrored the aesthetics by way of an audio collage of taste levels: FKA Twigs (the millennial fashion equivalent to playing Björk at one's show) was the 'tasteful' artist we kept returning to, but she was interjected with the decidedly mass market. However, by the time Lisa Stansfield came on, I was personally all for the beauty of the low-brow. Pannier dresses and Tudor shapes accessorised with sky high Renaissance wigs saw hair almost turned upside down. Hello Kitty hairbrushes, dollies, My Little Ponies and seaside trinkets sat in the hair like hoards of goodies inside a birds nest. The childlike Harajuku aesthetic was Kawakubo engaging with the most Japanese of exports. Postmodern and street style influenced, the seemingly silly and inconsequential were as artful and low brow as graffiti. (With Basqiat's exhibition currently on show at London's Barbican Centre, it seems that Kawakubo this season wanted to create her own.) But her 'graffiti' wasn't quite as 'multidimensional' as one might think. From the front, the dresses looked 3D voluminous. From the back, some of them were simple shifts with 2D panniers stuck to the sides. A trompe l'oeil trick offered different dimensional perspectives from different angles. Harajuku trinkets also hung from the shoulder line of one PVC red dress that popped so bright, our cameras could barely capture it. As the models lined up at the end, in their bulbous near folkloric get up, they resembled a set of Russian dolls. The Russian Embassy may be architecturally brutalist but inside this room on a Saturday in October it was as decorative as they come.