According to Rei Kawakubo, gold is the new color, so the Hôtel de la Monnaie was certainly an appropriate venue for her show. But it was more the element's mythological resonance that rang through her show. Her finale was a parade of gold-drenched dryads. Before that climax, she proposed a creature that might equally have been drawn from myth. "Hybrid fashion" was Rei's typically cryptic backstage directive, and you were irresistibly drawn to the circus staple, the half-man, half-woman. Stand the model this way and you had schoolboy jacket and pants; stand her that and you got a silk blouse with a sheer front and a pert nipple to dispose of any gender ambiguity. The half-and-half idea was also offered as a back-and-front proposition: front view, a python trench; back view, frilled shorts. Or back view, a redingote; front view, those frilled shorts with a sheer top.

As with her men's collection for Fall, there was an inescapable sense of Kawakubo collaging fundamental components of fashion into some strange new beast. She took a trenchcoat, for instance, and shredded and balled it into God knows what. There were identifiable fragments of her own past—the fuzzy circles on jackets, the brocades, the cutaway jackets, and, always, the asymmetry. There was also a whole passage of dresses ruched and draped from vintage silk scarves that Kawakubo herself has collected over the years. That in itself was the kind of personal revelation that is virtually impossible to decipher in a Comme collection, but, following on from the men's show, it hinted at a more immediate engagement on the designer's part. A series of silk dresses ruched with black ruffles suggested garters and vestigial luxury, the same make-do, end-of-the-civilized-world spirit that made her men's show such a standout.