Rei Kawakubo has enjoyed a long and fruitful career of iconoclastic controversy, rich in cultural subtexts. Sometimes, though, she feels like kicking back with a show where what you see is exactly what you get, and on those occasions it must irritate her when pesky, overanalytical journalists insist on dredging up more than meets the eye. Case in point: Kawakubo's latest men's collection. The invitation featured a clenched fist raised against a solid-gold background. In Western society, that image evokes politicized defiance, and so you went into the show with a certain set of expectations.
It turned out, though, that the designer had something else entirely in mind. In Japan, that fist symbol is apparently an optimistic emblem of achievement. And it was in keeping with the theme of success that Kawakubo drenched the collection in gold. Suit, shirt, shoes, tie: all of them gold. There were even gold tweeds and gold-flecked flannels, and jackets were appliquéd with palms of hands and flowers in gold leaf. Compounding this long winner's litany were prints constructed from children's scribbles. When they were legible, they endorsed love and fragility and "a place in the sun."
All rather darling, but at least as far as this pesky, overanalytical journalist is concerned, the show could have used a little more subtext. There were] some darker touches, like jackets lined with studs or chains. And the general shape of the collectiona modernized, sleeker version of the Teddy Boy silhouettes Kawakubo showed for falloffered a hint of danger. Very welcome it was, too.