What is the future of black? That's the philosophical question Rei Kawakubo says she was pondering while designing her Spring collection. Since Comme des Garçons virtually invented black as the non-color of fashion in the eighties, that's probably a logical line of thinking for the woman whose original mind has such a widespread influence over generations of designers. Recent collections of hers have triggered outbreaks of bright, clashing, cartoonish color and multi-textured, perforated layerings that have been openly quoted by Marc Jacobs, and have trickled far down the fashion food chain.
But now Kawakubo is back to black, presenting it almost as a mathematical treatise in geometric volumes. Hexagonal cutting was the central motif, shaped into poufy geodesic tops and cocooning skirts. Using vinyl leather, she patchworked mini hoodies that looked almost like deconstructed soccer balls, and then started to add decoration: frilled edges on stiff plastic tectonic shoulder plates, transparent cellophane underskirts. By the end, a more organic feeling was breaking through: petaled tufts of tattered chiffon spreading over back-to-front jackets, and then whole dresses constructed like topiary. Underneath it all, there were wide shorts and regular trousers and flat lace-up shoes that offered a less experimental baseline for daily dressing. But did the collection end up answering Kawakubo's original question? That's something only she can know, and she's not one to spell out an insight. All that's certain is that she's set out yet another puzzle here that many designing eyes will be trying to figure out in seasons to come.