The finale made the raison d'être behind today's Comme des Garçons show crystal clear: As Sid Vicious hollered "My Way," four idiosyncratically stylish English artists shuffled into the spotlight. Like Sid, they'd done it their way, and Rei Kawakubo wanted to give them their due. She did that not just by inviting them onto the runway, but by sending out a collection that extemporized on what has made each man special to her.
Michael Kostiff's store, World, was a fashionable farrago of ethnic style in London in the eighties. For him, Kawakubo offered pajama-like prints in layers torn and frayed. Duggie Fields pioneered the appetite for fifties retro that gripped London in the early seventies. She nodded to his formal Teddy boy style in a three-piece red suit with black revers. Andrew Logan's Eastern leanings were reflected in a mandarin-collared brocade suit, paired with huge mirrored brooches of his own devise. And last, but not least, Sebastian Horsley pranced down the catwalk in platform boots to the strains of T.Rex's "Dandy in the Underworld," the title of which accurately defined the cutaway Edwardiana of his look.
The sensibility of each man was filtered through Kawakubo's own, so some fabrics had the washed, worn look that has become something of a CdG signature. Proportions were shrunken. And the designer's eye for curious detail was evident in a covered button on Horsley's tailcoat and a trompe l'oeil jeweled belt on Logan's maharaja jacket.
It all made for a fascinating gesture on Kawakubo's part. Though Japan's affection for English idiosyncrasy is the stuff of fashion legend, it's rare that you see a designer of Rei's stature so openly and warmly acknowledging the people who inspire her. And by elevating their individuality, she encouraged the rest of us to take more fashion risks.