The artist, because calling Rei Kawakubo a fashion designer somehow sounds reductive, presented her latest Comme des Garçons collection in the Galerie de Minéralogie at the Natural History Museum, and she made the front row guest unwitting participants in her presentation.
She called the show “Ceremony of Separation” which conjured up thoughts of isolation, loss and strife. But when the first model came slowly down the catwalk dressed in white lace that had been sculpted into an assortment of round bundles resulting in a bulbous silhouette, which was followed by another that look like a thick duvet cover tied with a line up of bows down the front, the mind shifted gears. Maybe the separation is more about protecting oneself; burrowing into and under our clothes (or bedding) and being cocooned inside their comforting embrace.
Then things got a bit meta.
Kawakubo had intentionally made her catwalk slender. Pair this with the voluminous shapes of her creations and there was no way two ensembles could feasibly get by each other if they walked straight on. Even inside their cloth carapaces the models would be forced to touch, to be, even for a moment, connected while at the same time still detached.
And so it was that upon meeting along the runway each pair would stop, recognize the other and then in unison pivot to the side to acquiesce the rest of the catwalk to the other. It made for a poetic and poignant pas de deux.
A dance that had the ancillary touch of including the front rows who's who of fashion. Each time the models turned their oversized bows, globular shapes and large surfaces invaded the personal spaces of the guests; people who are used to, and like, that invisible bubble of insulation.
The way the designer pressed her guests into her physical universe was elegantly done, and made this capacious collection connect with the world in a personal and profound way.
After all, living a life of detachment is a life not truly lived at all.