Dear Rei Kawakubo, have you been looking inside my head? ‘Cause we’re on the same page with spooky schoolboy style, aren’t we? Nice one. Fond regards, Rebecca.
Of course I’m not for one moment suggesting that Ms. Kawakubo knows the first thing about my existence, let alone my tiny wee brain, but who’s to say no to a moment of whimsy now and again? Anyway, moving on to the real subject at hand: Comme des Garcon’s latest Homme Plus collection, and how much I love it.
Titled ‘Neither Man nor Woman’, I think it would be a supreme example of lazy journalism to just talk about how it’s men wearing skirts. Yawn, been there done that (well kind of, I am a girl after all). I can see why others would leap on this concept, but let’s face it: it’s not new. I’m not meaning to downplay Comme des Garcons here, it’s just that this isn’t the first brand to feature the skirt as a non-gendered item (see Rick Owens, among others), here in Tokyo it’s not uncommon to see a fashionable gent wearing something skirt-like (be it a kilt or otherwise), and my other (better) half Samuel has been know to wear a long layer, tunic or robe from time to time. It’s a look I really like, and as a girl who wears trousers pretty much every day, even I feel a bit of a thrill when I do choose to wear a skirt.
While I was writing this, I started thinking about gendered clothing and eventually, after lots of staring into space, said to myself ‘urgh, gender is a such a construct‘ – this may well be true, but I’m sure I’ve just guaranteed my place in the Pretentious Idiots Club for 2012. I do count myself lucky though, being female it’s a lot easier to wear ‘male’ clothes, even in such a forgiving city as Tokyo, and I do hope that the trickle-down effect high fashion invariably has on the mainstream means that there’ll be less stigma attached to unisex clothing in the future.
So what are Rei’s catwalk models and fashion devotees wearing? Knee-length tailored coats were the outer layer of choice, especially calling to mind my beloved spooky schoolboy style when paired with skirts and shorts, and hats tied on with oversize ribbons. Oversize coats and vast pirate hats captured the dressing up box of days gone by and all the fashion and gender experimentation that comes naturally at a young age. Also seen were plenty of patterns: tartan, polka dots, stripes, roses and (my favourite) astrology symbols. The roses in particular made a huge visual impact and really brought home the theme of the show – I might have to see if I can find the rose-printed jacket! The styling was particularly fun, with scruffy black wigs for every model and ankle socks on show thanks to short trousers.
All in all, I have to say in my opinion this is an excellent collection not only from a design standpoint, but also for making the audience consider their own notions of clothing and gender – a huge and very personal subject. As once we talked about Comme des Garcons’ notions of non-mainstream femininity on the catwalk, I hope we’ll also be discussing masculinity and fashion as well in the future.