The premise of a Comme des Garçons show always provokes thought with its succinctness, but Rei Kawakubo offered more than usual this time, like her protégé Junya Watanabe this morning. "Hatching: something strong is born through the process of hatching losing the shell." Several interpretations suggested themselves: new life, growth through change, metamorphosis. But the intense Gothicism of the opening passage—the models dressed in dark, elongated layers with eyes blackened and hair plastered to their foreheads—looked more like Johnny Depp in Dark Shadows. There was a certain wit in such an association. A vampire does, after all, hatch from a shell of humanity.
And it was certainly diverting to think that Kawakubo might be making a comment on the monster within (we're living in a time when such a comment can't be made often or loud enough). But as the show rolled along, the notion of a metamorphosis marginally less toxic than vampirism made its presence felt. Black leather bibs were like a bug's carapace (vide: Kafka). You could imagine their back buckles bursting as the hatching happened. There were shirts and jackets whose shoulders and sleeves were ripped away to reveal another garment underneath. Layering achieved the same effect: three jackets in one outfit alone. That was either Hulk-like or, in its sense of a second—or third—skin, curiously glamorous. In fact, there was an insinuating strain of glamour infecting the whole collection. The ruched trousers, definitely. The flowing tails, yes (especially in gauzy stripes, with a dove-gray frock coat). Likewise, layers of blinding white.
The unfortunate irresistibility of the monster metaphor made the final walkout of shuffling, uniformly head-scarved models a little zombie-like. To return to a more benign interpretation of the hatching notion, it was just as easy to see a new man being born. But isn't the process of rebirth exactly what Rei Kawakubo promotes every season?