Rei Kawakubo, undisputed high priestess of the avant-garde, has an unpredictable, ahead-of-the-pack mind-set that lends her shows a must-see quality. For spring, she set herself a new challenge: to decorate her clothes without using any external embellishments. She extended the fabric of her cotton garments by yards, tying and braiding the extra cloth to form bunchy plaits and rosettes, and the project resulted in a bulky silhouette constructed of boleros, long skirts and tunics festooned with outcrops of chunky 3-D effects. It made for one of Comme des Garçons’ more theoretical collections, which die-hard Kawakubo fans will no doubt wear as an act of art appreciation.

The designer is not completely disconnected, though, from mainstream seasonal thinking. She experimented with intense color and produced an amazing combination of fuchsia and candy pink among the olives, whites and black. And there at the center of it all was the cargo pant—the summer trend sans frontière.