In the space of three seasons, Tao Kurihara's minute, off-schedule shows have come to generate the kind of panic-to-be-there that has journalists calling and texting and dashing through traffic to make it. It's such a must-see that, by the time her all-white "shirts and weddings" collection began to pad quietly out in the Comme des Garçons showroom, rain-bedraggled faces were pressed up against the windows and doors outside.
What was the focus of all this fuss? Another of Tao's small and prettily formed concept collections in which two ideas glide togethera kind of girly haiku in dress form. This time, it was centered on ruffle-front white shirts, kilted skirts with bustled flounces of dotted net, and ballet slippers, worn by girls with circlets of white paper flowers in their hair. As the bridesmaids passed to and fro, the scrolled cascades of their shirt fronts and tiered skirts began to take on the details of wedding-cake decorations. Rows of bows were planted on skirts; tiny frills resembling piped icing circled the legs of trousers. By the end, the dresses morphed into pieces of crinolined confectionery, scissored out of white paper. That inched Tao a step or two toward fantasy, but not so much that it distracted from the salable charm of her way with a fragile Victorian puff-sleeved blouse or a perfect little silk-knit polo jersey.
As the audience peeled off into the street, the debrief chatter circled around the fact that Junya Watanabe, also of the house of Comme, had concentrated much of his efforts on white shirts this seasonas have many others in the fashion world at large. That slightly diluted the aura of from-nowhere ingenuity that surrounds Tao's work, but no matter. Her only worry ought to be finding a bigger space to contain her fans next season.