Comme des Garçons & VETEMENTS: Rebels at Heart

Yesterday, two of the most anticipated designer brands showcased their Fall/Winter 2018 men's collections in Paris: Comme des Garçons Homme Plus and VETEMENTS. Comparing the two in one and the same article may seem incongruous at first, but it makes more sense when you consider that the theme “rebellion” served as a common denominator to both collections.


VETEMENTS FW18 men's and women's show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.

Hold on, you say, how dare you compare Rei Kawakubo with Demna Gvasalia? Like it or not, both are design geniuses of their own generation, and both, in their very own and unique approach to fashion and marketing, have been able to not only make their collections appealing to a larger audience (mainstream, underground, and elite), but also to awaken a true desire within their customer to commit to their style and brand's identity on a long term basis – to feel the need to belong to it.


COMME DES GARÇONS HOMME PLUS FW18 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.

Rei Kawakubo, who has been widely considered as one of the most relevant, artistic, and forward-thinking female designers since her debut in Paris in the early 80s, never thought of her work as a trend-focused creative expression. In fact, her boundary-pushing take on fashion seems to come to her naturally, almost instinctively. 


COMME DES GARÇONS HOMME PLUS FW18 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.

Demna Gvasalia, for his part, has had that enfant terrible image stuck to him for a while, with people who either love VETEMENTS and adulate the brand's provocative normcore aesthetics and incredible rise to fame, or couldn't be bothered to take it seriously, pinpointing that clothes that are ‘copy-pasted’ out of work-wear and underground cultures shouldn’t be sold at astronomical prices.


VETEMENTS FW18 men's and women's show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.

Both runway shows yesterday were so different from another, and yet they channelled the same spirit of rebellion and willingness to make a statement beyond seasonal trends, by either surprising with the unexpected (Rei Kawakubo) or doing exactly the expected in the most ostentatious manner (Demna Gvasalia). 

Kawakubo featured a collection that paid a tribute to the inner rebel in us, as read the show notes. Her men's wardrobe for the upcoming Fall felt like a nostalgic return to our deepest (and most innocent) childhood myths, a.k.a dinosaurs and super heroes, and chronologically propelled us into the future (and adulthood) with prints, shapes, and surface treatments that made a nod to our industrial civilization.


COMME DES GARÇONS HOMME PLUS FW18 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.

Gvasalia's take on VETEMENT's Fall/Winter 2018 collection also came with a nostalgic flair…as if the actors of Friends would meet Marilyn Manson somewhere in Siberia – in the 90s, of course. Prone to bundling pop culture with corny everyday essentials and popular logos, the Georgian designer keeps on impressing his audience through his capacity to feed on cultural references, to appropriate them, and to create a new, thought-provoking piece of clothing out of them. Clothing that has you either being in awe of it, or shaking your head desperately. 


VETEMENTS FW18 men's and women's show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.

Both Kawakubo's and Gvasalia's collections also make us ask ourselves the following question: Is that called fashion, in the sense of wearable clothing? Were these dinosaur-head pieces, out-of-the-future jackets, and sarouel pants with comic-book prints actual pieces that one could wear on a daily basis? Is this endless repetition of thrift-store-resembling clothing and logo appropriation considered to be designing? Sometimes there are no answers, and the best answer is none at all. As we all know, actions speak louder than words – and Kawakubo and Gvasalia excel at it.

 

See the full VETEMENTS FW18 collection here. 

See the full COMME DES GARÇONS FW18 collection here.