What were they thinking? Usually, that question is asked with an incredulous snort. But when the object of fascination is designed by Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, or Jun Takahashi, respect is due. With these conceptual masters, you want to know the hows and whys behind their odd delights.
All three staged powerful shows this season. For Comme des Garçons, the label she founded 42 years ago, Kawakubo created 18 sculptural objects inspired by bereavement — specifically, how one confronts the idea of separation. This is the fourth season in a row that Kawakubo has done such an extreme runway collection, one designed apart from the clothes her company actually sells. She indicated the other day in her Place Vendôme showroom that, for now, this is how she wants to express herself. She is honest about the difficulties of creating. When asked how she keeps herself inspired after more than 40 years, Kawakubo said that’s the problem: “I’m not inspired.”
It’s worth keeping that comment in mind when looking at the 18 objects. For one thing, the pieces are deeply affecting, a window into feelings about time and life’s burdens (a favorite theme of Kawakubo’s, now evoked by a piece made up of what resemble laundry bundles). But for another thing, how often does a genius share her personal struggles? The objects are full of fragments, repetitions, and spiritual allusions. In most cases, they are separated from the body; they could be interpreted as elaborate tombs. The most moving is the last piece in the show, in black European lace. We’ve created an interactive to help explain her thought process.
And we’ve done the same with key looks from Watanabe and Takahashi, whose label is Undercover. Watanabe’s collection was dazzling, in part because it used such economy of design. The basic concept was strips of material, like wool felt, turned into honeycomb shapes — for shrugs, capes, jackets. He said the construction is similar to paper lanterns. “It really took a long time to work out, about three months,” Watanabe said through an interpreter. “There was a lot of trial and error.” It was worth the effort.
Takahashi said his goal was to suggest the fear and suspense in beauty. As he said, “I’m not interested in just the beautiful, but also the other side.” That may well explain the broken bits of a mirror embroidered on coats. What I especially admired was his fresh take on deconstruction. It was done so simply but with thought, and, gosh, the results made me smile.
Most Viewed Stories
Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton Looked Glamorous As Hell at Prince Charles’s Birthday
10 Impressive Questions to Ask in a Job Interview
What We Know About Michael Avenatti’s Arrest for Domestic Violence
Swedish Instagram Model Insists She’s Not Pretending to Be Black
Everyone Believed Larry Nassar
Capitalism Is Ruining Your Sex Life
9 Breezy Responses to Those Awkward Family Holiday Questions
‘I’m Lazy, Reckless, and Addicted to Social Media. Help!’
Why Does Melania Trump Want This Top White House Aide Fired So Badly?
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesCiara's Wedding Dress Was Too Big for the Chapel
To be fair, it was a 13 foot-long dress.You and Rihanna Will Both Want to Invest in Dior’s New Bag
It's got something for everyone.Polo Shirts Have Turned Their Back on Ryan Lochte
Along with his other major sponsors.Ryan Lochte Will No Longer Be Paid to Wear Tiny Bathing Suits
Speedo remains committed to transparency.Laura Brown Is the New Editor-in-Chief of InStyle
After 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar.Tyra Banks Is Going to Teach a Class on Smizing at Stanford
"If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them."This Floating Pier Is the Most Zen Installation Ever
Walking on water in Italy.Nation Is Appalled by Matt Lauer’s Nude Ankles During Ryan Lochte Interview
What’s the opposite of “Jeah”?8 People at the Life of Pablo Pop-up Explain Why Kanye West Is a God
"I mean, Kanye West is just Kanye West. There's not more or less you can say about Kanye West. He's just Mr. West!"A T-shirt Is Enough
Simplicity, versatility, and cool. What more could you want?
She took a perfect pencil dive off a 30-foot yacht.American Apparel Is Being Sued by Former Workers
As the company considers putting itself up for sale.A Gendered History of the Tailored Suit
From Marlon Brando to Coco Chanel.How Zendaya Developed Such Great Style at the Young Age of 19
The star's best looks from Disney to now.Proof That If You’re Chic Enough, a Little Federal Investigation Doesn’t Matter
Is this the best they could do?5,300-Year-Old Mummified Iceman Probably Would’ve Been a Street-Style Star
He had several different looks and was “pretty picky.”J.Crew Has Identified 226 Shades of Pink
Even more than there are shades of gray.Gigi and Bella Hadid Merch Is Now Somehow a Thing That Is Happening
Today in Hadidiana.Gird Your Loins for the Return of Yeezy to New York Fashion Week
The season approaches.This Indie Brand Had a Great Response to Ivanka Trump
When she bought one of their cuffs, they donated the proceeds to the Clinton campaign.