“No limits,” with Comme des Garçons at IF Boutique

comme des garcons

“No limits,” with Comme des Garçons at IF Boutique

IF Boutique Dubai is very excited to have just received the Spring/Summer 2017 Comme de Garçons collection and, among its stable of amazing and innovative designers, Junya Watanabe and Noir by Kei Ninomiya.

Just to open the boxes from Japan and bring each piece out is like unveiling paintings to hang in a museum.

Rei Kawakubo, who heads the Japanese fashion label, says “Fashion is something that you can attach to yourself, put on, and through that interaction, the meaning is born.” It is certainly what every person who has worn her designs feels.

Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe and Noir are not for the feeble hearted. It is an experience to don the clothes. And as Kawakubo also says, “Comme des Garçons is a gift to oneself, not something to appeal or to attract the opposite sex.”

Never is art closer to fashion than in Kawakubo’s collections and she will be the subject of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Fashion Exhibition in May.

The idea of Rei Kawakubo’s Spring/Summer 2017 collection is “invisible clothes.” But, wait! Don’t think sheer and nakedness. In fact, she shows some of the biggest, most covered-up shapes this season. The pieces are highly sculptural and you need to look for the wearer within. But far from being invisible, the woman within occupies great space.

Kawakubo, who owns the Japanese iconic label with her husband Adrian Joffe, heads a self-built fashion empire which gathers avant-garde designers and does exactly what she wants.

The Spring/Summer 2017 collection reminds those who have followed her fashion genius over the years of pieces she has produced since the 1980s — the Peter Pan-collared schoolgirl dress, sunk into a giant quilted disc; her fondness for tartan, exhibited as a kind of vast kilt; her love of black-and-white polka dots displayed over an enormous coat. There was also a moment for bright red, patent, and frills.

One things is for sure, her fashion shows – at which she never takes the final bow — are always mesmerizing.

Kawakubo is famously photo-shy and hardly ever appears in magazines. This reluctance got the camera shutters a-clicking during Paris Fashion Week in January when Kawakubo and her husband and business partner Adrian Joffe were sitting on the second row at the Balenciaga Fall 2017 menswear show.
Kawakubo has been quite supportive of Balenciaga’s creative director, Demna Gvasalia, since the early days of Vetements, giving that brand prized space inside the Dover Street Market stores and collaborating with it on tops for its Spring 2017 collection.

Is a Comme-Balenciaga collaboration in the cards or was she just supporting Gvasalia?

“It is true to say that I ‘design’ the company, not just clothes,” Kawakubo has said of Comme des Garçons, which she founded in 1969 in Tokyo. Liberty, then as now, is her core motivation: She needs to be independent not just to express herself freely, but to be unfettered by potential meddling from financial backers.

According to many observers, Kawakubo’s influence on the history of fashion should rank with that of Cristóbal Balenciaga and Coco Chanel. She has fiercely challenged convention at every turn. As one former employee, the designer Hiroyuki Horihata, told W magazine, all she ever wanted was to “make clothes that nobody has ever seen. She wanted extreme beauty.”

Kawakubo’s nonconformist clothes are the visible expressions of her inner life, a passionate cauldron of ideas, feelings, and intuitions. For Spring 1992, she showed garments that looked like the paper patterns of clothes rather than the actual cloth clothes themselves, and for Spring 1997, she sent out outfits with outrageously bulbous lump-and-bump padding, genuinely stunning (and, in some cases, horrifying) an audience that you’d expect to be unflappable.

Kawakubo bucks the establishment not only with her suggestions for what we should wear, but for how and where we buy it. In 2004, Dover Street Market opened in London where Comme des Garçons’s various lines are sold alongside the wares of other designers who are personally invited to participate. Now there are also DSM shops in Tokyo and New York, and the affiliated I.T Beijing Market.

“There are no limits,” Kawakubo has said. And, coming from her, that is no mere rhetoric.

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