June 26, 2008
"In the end, black is best," said Adrian Joffe as he fished for a rationale for his wife Rei Kawakubo's latest collection for Comme des Garçons. "And she's always loved men in skirts." Lots of black, lots of skirtsthat goes some way toward clarifying the show's variations on a theme. But it scarcely goes all the way, because, as usual, there was such a weight of subtext in Comme's presentation. Take men in skirts. As depicted in the show, with a skirt pleated and white, like the traditional uniform of a Greek soldier, or full and white, like the apron of a worker in an August Sander photograph, or short and black, like a schoolgirl's uniform, men were a many and varied feast. Wearing one of Stephen Jones' squashy hats and Rei's floor-length black number, a man might even be cast as the stern governess of an Edwardian household. Or a slightly twisted seminarian. ("Savage priests" was actually another of Joffe's cryptic offerings.) Frilling, beading, netting, even the hint of a petticoat under a particularly flouncy skirt, suggested a subversive assault on masculine certitudes, but the jackets and tailcoat embossed with a circular motif, or the splotchy print of photons pinging around on a suit were less ambiguous. Likewise, the barbed-wire design embossed on a top. And it's more likely barbed wire than, say, the stern-governess look that will make it to the floor of CdG's men's shops.