Visibility and viability: Rihanna does Comme des Garçons, Céline challenges superficially and Chloe clumps along
Rihanna was sat front-row at Comme des Garçons on Saturday afternoon. I’m uncertain why she was there – it isn’t something I would normally mention, but the incongruity of such a high-profile attendee at Comme des Garçons, hitherto the bastion of intellectualism, of substance over mere style, bears comment.
What did Rihanna make of it all? I didn’t ask because, frankly, I don’t care. Comme des Garçons isn’t about the flashy, slightly trashy circus of celebrity dressing. Hence, perhaps Rihanna’s presence was some form of artistic statement, a kind of installation or performance piece? I wondered if someone, somewhere was laughing at her. Or maybe, if even Comme counts the column inches.
Visibility, in today’s fashion game, seems next to godliness.
The clothing didn’t solve the puzzle. Besides jackets inflated to Talking Heads proportions and a smattering of sequins, there wasn’t anything starry about these Comme des Garçons clothes, dour knits twisted around the body, enormous sleeves dangling – sometimes two or three at a time, variegated wool braided into monstrous plaits that piled high around the body. Most garments seemed to swallow their models, gargantuan hooded tops and sausage-padded tubular protrusions throtting necks, skirts with chewed-out holes like Gruyere cheese swaddling legs.
These were clothes that made you invisible. These were clothes that pulled the focus entirely onto them, not the wearer. Clothes that could even swamp Rihanna, off the catwalk and on. An interesting concept.
Comme des Garçons is a bastion in fashion because what Rei Kawakubo designs influences fashion’s influencers. You and I won’t be wearing sausagey stuffed-cableknit tuber knotted about our necks like a sartorial spaghetti junction, but someone will rip it off to commercial and critical aplomb. Rei Kawakubo’s brain is fashion ground zero.
Look at Céline – especially yesterday’s show, where the melange wools and asymmetric puckered buttoning recalled Kawakubo’s work again and again. There were also hints of Yohji Yamamoto to the full skirts and compressed torsos, delineated by ribbing.
It was all refined to the nth degree, the clumsiness of proportion in the original ironed out to make it eminently realistic and desirable, as is Phoebe Philo’s way. Even when it’s challenging, it never pushes you too far. Céline is ”challenging” in quotation marks; challenging with a silk lining and a few commercial spin-offs in the back room.
The challenges at the autumn/winter Céline show were especially superficial. I’m unsure where the mono-muffs came from – the single enormous mittens in bright fur – but they seemed a bit of a styling gimmick. There were a few too many touches of that to this Céline collection, single earrings dangling with crystals and tassels, heavy shoes, odd knitted trousers tugged down to the soles of brother-creeper Doc Martens (with upper-three-figure price tags, no less).
The core were crisp coats, a few pricked across the surface with multiple threads like faux-faux fur coats. They left the impression. Not the tag-along accessories.
Tag-along accessories are something you’ve taken away from lots of the shows. You wonder why designers aren’t yet over the It-bag/shoe/belt phenomenon, because consumers certainly seem to be. The main issue? The “It-whatever” that ricochets around the fashion world seems to be identikit street style fodder: a statement bag clutched in an odd fashion, a belt chinching everything too tight and too high, and oddly enough a furry shoe, à la three seasons old Céline.
Those cropped up, again, at Clare Waight Keller’s winter Chloe collection. Although there were good parts – a few hairy dresses in navy and tobacco that clicked with that faux-faux fur thing, some interesting embellishment, and actually those shoes weren’t half bad – as a whole the collection came off as ungainly. Models with hands shoved in pockets at breast-height, clumping in statement shoes and hugging bags against their bodies were trying to tick too many boxes. The clothes wound up looked uncomfortable, and heavy-handed.
Chloe isn’t deep and meaningful fashion – it isn’t Comme des Garçons. It should be light, carefree, dare we even say fun? This seemed to be trying too hard. Maybe that’s because it’s the house that, under the auspices of Philo in the noughties, kick-started the “It-whatever” accessories focus that has blinkered so many luxury houses. Times have changed. Chloe should move with them.Tagged in: autumn/winter 2014, Celine, Comme Des Garçons, Paris Fashion Week
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