The Big Idea

The Big Idea


It's that time of the year again when suddenly I'm reviewing A/W 12-3 collections even though they debuted nearly six months ago.  Somehow though just as these ideas are beginning to filter in to what we're actually wearing, it just seems more appropriate for me to gather up my thoughts of the current season.  One of Paris' big ideas being Comme des Garcons A/W 12-3 show, really consumed me in March.  This being my second Comme show I've experienced in person, I'm noticing that they seem to draw out the hyper analytical in me.  Of course, it's tiresome when you glean too much symbolism and deep thoughts out of a clothes parade but with a Comme des Garcons show, you just can't help yourself.  This was one of my favourite reviews to write for Dazed Digital at the shows so I'll just repost it if you don't mind.  Not sure I could rehash my thoughts in any other way really…   

The world is flat again, according to Rei Kawakubo. Or at the very least, the clothes are. That was the big idea at the latest Comme des Gar√ßons show and quite literally, everything was BIG. To an ear thudding silence of just the photographer‚Äôs pit snapping away and nothing else, oversized proportions of giant coats, jackets and trousers in the brightest shades of red, pink and lilac wool felt came trooping out with seam allowances jutting out at the sides. The curves to these garments were magnificent to behold and didn‚Äôt feel like they were dwarfing the models because there were controlled by the natural stiffness of the felt.

When enlarged patterns of leopard, na√Øve flower drawings and polka dots and camouflage started to appear, it was clear that Kawakubo was asking questions about our 21st century fascination with gleaning every detail up close and personal in fashion. The ubiquity of live streams, instant images, close-ups, behind the scenes ‚Äì all revealed and offered up to the wider audience ‚Äì is reinterpreted by Kawakubo's thorough investigation of the 2D surface. And yet, as flat fronted as these pieces looked, it‚Äôs when the models turn around that you see constructions that actually celebrated the curve and the 3D in an almost simplistic way, like a child moulding Play-Doh into something. A front-on picture of these pieces don‚Äôt do them full justice but perhaps Kawakubo is fine with people remembering the mere flat surface and nothing else.

Things got playful when a print of a dress shape in electric pink was imposed on a blue oversized dress. It’s a simple expression of trompe l’oeil, aided by saturated shades of colour that have been largely absent this season. Kawakubo then took us to more childish memories with a series of chintzy rose floral cocoons and sequined ball gowns, hinting at curvature rather than flatness. Reading deep into that contradiction won’t do you any good though so it may be best just to soak up the appearance of it all and revel in it, as the audience did when they applauded the collection endlessly, thumping their feet, waiting for Kawakubo to emerge. She of course, didn’t.

P.S. Most of the catwalk pictures of the Comme show really do accentuate the deceptively "flat" element of the collection which is why I've stuffed as many pictures as possible into a video reel just to demonstrate that what we actually saw at the catwalk was anything but flat.  Curvature and strategically placed volume were key to making Kawakubo's idea even more emphatic.  


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  1. Cassandra

    2012-08-06 at 2:38 PM

    I think it’s unique but I don’t really like it. Mmm
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  2. Soili

    2012-08-06 at 3:05 PM

    …Rei Kawakubo is an absolute genius!!! Beautiful collection, definitely clothing in the form of art…


    2012-08-06 at 3:20 PM


  4. ttea

    2012-08-06 at 3:59 PM

    As usual for Japanese labels, the design is very fashion forward, futuristic almost. Such interesting clothes to look at.

  5. The Provoker

    2012-08-06 at 7:02 PM

    very well written indeed, it didn’t initially occur to me that it was an in-depth investigation of the 2D surface as I simply took her playing things from 3D to 2D and yes I am in agreement of how oddly enough the giant shapes didn’t overpower the models as the curves softens the body and in an odd way compliments the body’s natural curves and shapes in its most simplest form.
    xx nathan.niche

  6. Corina

    2012-08-07 at 12:07 AM

    It’s a runway trend alright…I wonder if this will reach the streets as well…Oversized clothing is ok, but this is way too exaggerated for my taste

  7. Emily McGuire

    2012-08-07 at 1:24 AM

    While I agree the collection makes for a clear response to (and perhaps a parody of) the way we experience fashion, I wonder if this was a conscious intention? Perhaps it’s the fact Rei is so removed from the mainstream industry that she is at once, so in tune with it.
    ‚Äú…By the very nature of how I work, I cannot be in any dialogue with the fashion industry or the public, or let myself be influenced in any way, by anyone or anything.‚Äù
    — Rei Kawakubo

  8. jessbuurman

    2012-08-07 at 11:24 AM

    This picture also the two pretty girl are walking on the ramp so its nice.I like the color of dress which she both are wearing.It is a unique way.

  9. la Vinia

    2012-08-08 at 1:59 PM

    The 2D/3D interplay is a big challange for any designer.. and always will be (at least as long as clothes are made ‚Äã‚Äãusing flat materials, and they’re later folded flat for storage in our closet).
    The way designers manage to solve the dimensional translation makes the difference. Kawakubo developed the concept in her specific way. The effect is awesome! (and quite big :))
    I guess these garments look even better off stage, mixed&matched with some ordinary clothes

  10. silk embroidery

    2012-08-10 at 11:10 PM

    wowThe 2D/3D interplay is a big challange for any designer.. and always will be (at least as long as clothes are made ‚Äã‚Äãusing flat materials, and they’re later folded flat for storage in our closet).

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