I'm writing about this collection because it is simply magical. Rei Kawakubo, head designer for Comme, was mystical this season. She is a dreamer, a thinker, and an incredible mind. Her designs and creations are moving and though-provoking, often left unfinished and questioning. Hems are left unsewn, holes are patched in garments, pieces of fabric drag behind, and garments fall akwardly across the body. It is all part of the illusion. Rei Kawakubo wants you to think, she rarely ever explains what or why, and is rarely ever out or in interviews. It is through her work that she explains herself, her feeling and her emotion. Her shows are commonly held in odd areas, hard to get to and perhaps dirty and unkept. The show's setup being oddly numbered metal chairs and barely any welcoming beverages or gifts. The welcome comes through an 8 minute show held twice annually. Rei is unlike any designer, she is an artist. One of the most interesting to ever live. Comme des Garcons, meaning 'like boys' in french, is known as an unseen force behind the industry. Barely anybody outside of the fashion crowd knows of her, even though their closets are perhaps formed from her ideas.
Through the fall 2009 collection Rei was thinking of protection and comfort. The theme was 'wonderland'. Interpret what you will with this, people see many things. The collection overall was meant as a charm of warmth and nostalgia, dreams and memories. The garments themselves were complex as usual; olive coats sewn over snug blanket wraps, jackets and skirts layered with tranparent nude tulle, and garments stitched with trompe l'oeil illusion of pockets or underlayers. Pink-haired models came out and, with a layer of gauze stiched with a sparkly kiss across their faces, stomped around in mocassins painted with toes. The entire collection was based around illusions, the nude tulle giving the effect of a melted garment. It surely was a wonderland at first sight, a beautiful carnival or a whimsical dream. Who knows with Rei Kawakubo. As usual, she did not make an appearance at the end of the show. Choosing, however, to stay backstage as industry professionals and fashionistas alike oohed, awed, and questioned what they had just seen... a new fashion era in the making.
This collection was so distraught and very odd, but nevertheless mesmerizing and beautiful as always. Christopher Kane, who is both London fashion darling and designer to the hip and elite, meant something different this season. Backstage Kane said his collection was inspired by a documentary he saw about the Jonestown mass suicides in 1978, as well as looking at aspects of the film 'Lolita'. The collection reminded me of the odd, traditional families that inhabited middle America through the 50's (or the ones that went awry). The show's silhouettes brought checkered and plaid dresses with cascading print, odd suiting, perfectly layered sweaters and sheer fabrics, and little girl embroidery. Kane's lineup would look otherwise quite sweet if it wasn't for the slashes, odd tailoring, and unbearable pureness. It was that undertone of ruined innocence that made this collection equally as edgy as it is lovely.
Raf Simons, who has been head of this minimalist brand for a few years, is taking Jil to new territory. I respect Raf Simons very much, for in the past few seasons Raf has been toying with changing the Jil Sander woman as the fashion industry becomes more modern and more demanding. To much glory, Raf Simons has taken Jil Sander into more conceptual boundaries then that of the clean robot silhouettes Jil Sander has always been known for. What is so genius about Raf is that his designs are always pure but never heavy and never over-accessorized. This season Raf brought sex to the Jil Sander woman in a way never before seen. His inspirations were land artists and the 1970's film Zabriskie Point (screens throughout the show even showed a 'Death Valley' sex scene from the film). This season the collection was more natural, organic and frayed (literally). Earth and a new aspect of nature were sure inspirations for the deconstructive aspects to the collections. The pieces were very creative and defined, almost as if he was literally 'taking apart' Jil Sander. The looks consisted of classic Jil Sander silhouettes that were ripped, torn and frayed at the edges or perhaps akwardly draped. Trench-like skirts gave ease and cool to this refined girl. Some skirts and dresses even had pieces of torn or 'peeling' fabrics clinging off the garment, inspired by deconstructed houses. Thin and transparent knits layered over pieces giving them a dreamy illusion, and earth tone metallic dresses and STUNNING accessories grasped the vision together. The shoes were vision of their own, almost unable to describe. Whatever Raf Simons was thinking this season, he went somewhere new, somewhere undeniably disturbing and beautiful. This collection was undoubtedly uncovering something new, but beneath each piece was still the classic Jil Sander shining through, and that will always be relevant. Let's dance in the sunshine in Jil Sander, never mind the six inch heels.