Imagine the final fashion show on the final night of western civilization. Rei Kawakubo had the most appropriate word for it: "Decadence." She showed a collection that literally piled reference on reference like a mad last gasp, starting with the little poodle-y wig plopped on top of each model's head. Kawakubo made some pretty incongruous connections: between denim and dense jacquard, between a U2 tee and a Lurex-threaded cutaway jacket, between tuxedos and pajamas, and on a bigger stage, between diametrically opposed cultures like Japan and China. That was the brocade-and-complex-pant subtext. And yet the shabby, silken languor of the clothes also put you in mind of palazzo-panted cocktails on the terrace of Lucille Ball's home in Beverly Hills on a lazy Sunday afternoon. In other words, the collection embraced a multitude of alternate realities.
That has always been Kawakubo's ineffable genius. Here, she mushed the propriety of Edwardian England together with the sparkly tack of Vegas-as-mammon, then mixed in a handful of disciplinary mid-calf felted military coats. It made for a typically obtuse vision of cultural apocalypse. But there's an irresistible conviction to her vision. As Elvis, the godhead of another strong-willed hybrid of sane and crazy, might opine from on high: "I can't help falling in love with you."