For the first time in recent memory, the first thing the audience noticed when the opening look of the Comme des Garçons took to the catwalk was the hair. Slicked forward across and down the face in stiff curls, it looked disturbingly like some sort of organic gas mask.
Now designer Rei Kawakubo has shown some extraordinary headgear in her collections in the past (hats off to you Stephen Jones). But what this says about the clothing she offered up for the fall/winter 2014 menswear season was that they were some of the most refined and understated pieces Kawakubo has offered in quite some time.
The quirky element in the collection’s deftly tailor suits were the geometric cutouts, framed in rows of zipper teeth, that Kawakubo added to let the color of the underlying shirts shine out.
This concept of letting the interior become part of the exterior was the running theme of the show. “Moth eaten” sweaters left gapping holes in the weave to, once again, expose the underlying top. The same goes for the hole filled footwear. Even some pinstriped suits, adored with circular or wave patches at the back (bringing to mind an overview of a zen garden) featured holes at their center.
In the final series of elegant jacquard evening suits, which continued the show's dominated silhouette of knee length jackets over wide cut pants, the holes were transformed into fabric patterns of dots or squares. Making for a nice finish to a show that left the riotous artistic leanings of the designer on the back burner.
And just like the holes in the show, this let Kawakubo’s designer tailoring talents come to the fore in a whole new way.