It is simply amazing to think that Rei Kawakubo has been designing clothing for her company Comme des Garçons for 43 years. Her oblique vision, her effortlessly and esoteric asymmetrical approach, her sculptural consideration of fabric, and her fearlessness in composing her garments has never wavered.
Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” served as a catalyst for her most recent Spring Summer '17 collection at Paris Fashion Week. In that story, an Emperor of a kingdom gets hoodwinked by a pair of scammers into thinking that the clothing he has paid a fortune for is invisible, with the scammers flattering the Emperor into thinking that he looks fantastic. Of course the Emperor's subjects, fearing the wrath of their leader, go along with it all, also telling the Emperor he looks fantastic. This continues until a child, unfamiliar with the ways of mob mentality, announces that the Emperor is nude.
The idea of invisible clothing was clearly fascinating to Kawakubo and she marvelously used semi-transparent or clear rubber and plastic for a series of coats, capes, ponchos, and jackets. Models wore wigs plastered into Emperor's crowns (Kawakubo likes the idea of crowns and headpieces like the floral crowns she showed here
, the animal ears she showed here
, and the studded black leather crowns seen here
) as they paraded not only clear pieces printed with the phrases "The King Is Naked," "Beauty Is In The Eye," and "It's My Fashion," but several suiting pieces made in conjunction with the house of Fornasetti
, featuring the themes and variations on the 19th century engraving of the face of operatic soprano Lina Cavalieri made famous by founder Piero Fornasetti
. Usually Kawakubo's themes come from incredibly disparate sources creating highly enigmatic collections, but this one seems to be quite "clear." (Sorry...)