The experimental research of Rei Kawakubo at Comme Des Garçons is an endless creative stream that pushes her to imagine impossible forms to cover the body both with performance and functional approach. The first step is the incredible show that, every season for the past six years, surprises for the radical design showcased on stage. The functional one then is the development of the product she delivers in stores – something strictly linked with the show, but, à la Comme Des Garçons, wearable. For this collection, the Japanese designer reflected about her work and considered herself a perpetual futurist always searching for something new and unexpected. It was, of course, entitled Neo Future and she wondered if is it still possible to invent something perfect in today's super quick and overexposed society. The answer was clear and simple as she worked within the world she created with Comme Des Garçons – 20 looks that were a remix of her past visions, a kind of modernised abecedary of Kawakubo's language. Every single outfit was treated as a separated show, even the soundtrack was different for each one with vinyls selected and mixed live by sound artist Calx Vive. The show was, as usual, a mysterious performance where the audience could get lost.
Junya Watanabe explored the sexy side of fashion and chose the iconic singer Debbie Harry from Blondie as his muse. The artwork on the invitation was a portrait of her made by famous street artist Shepard "obey" Fairey. The pop-rock influences and the masculine look were mixed with a strong Comme Des Garçons taste (maybe a bit too much). Sly deconstructed pieces mixed with tulle skirts opened the show, then an oversized series of classic men's jackets and coats were presented paired with harnesses that also functioned as bags – a smart play of sellable products and eye-catching styling. The approach to sexiness was subtle and not vulgar, no nakedness or bare skin was shown, it was just a state of mind linked to the transgression references of the fetish accessories. Even the series of miniskirts were not so short, but enough to show the colourful stockings underneath. Punkish classic leopard and zebra prints were too. The makeup was very Debbie Harry inspired, created by young and creative artist Isamaya Ffrench as part of the new wave of the beauty designer. Despite his men's collections – usually made with different brands – for this women's show, Watanabe collaborated only with shoemaker trickers.
This season, Noir collection was a simple study about the colour red – its shades combined together amounting to black. Kei Ninomiya, the designer, explored both shapes and nuance by creating bulbous dresses that seemed to recall flowers, insect or other natural creatures. It was a crescendo of black and red combinations and constructions, scenographic outfits with voluminous petals or frill dresses and headpieces by flower artist Makoto Azuma, top and skirts that culminated with an explosion of layers, fabrics, fibres and hues of red. The imprinting of Rei Kawakubo's aesthetic was very strong throughout the show – something that is usually considered a trademark of her pupils, but that can sometimes be too present. The wearable sculptures were wisely counterbalanced by real dresses, smartly styled to look in tune with the striking presentation when combined with one new element introduced in his work like, for example, a metal thread.
Later in the day, Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski played with bold colours in a forest of vertical mikado game sticks for her Hermès Fall-Winter 2020-21 collection. White was the starting point and then, slowly, other colours came starting from a bold red, green, blue and yellow. The graphic concept and palette immediately reminded the newly launched lipstick line (released on March 4th) and its packaging that was coordinated with the setting. The heritage equestrian elements were there too, riding trench coat were reinterpreted making it more urban and sophisticated. The collection was focused on the daywear, men's new double-breasted suits fastened on the side were proposed both in wool and leather and pleated dresses and skirts with geometric prints or in leather and check. The colourful palette then turned to black, camel grey and brown. The initial playful hues looked a bit too disconnected from the rest of the collection, even if it's understandable that entering in makeup world needs support from the charming catwalk, but the second part of the collection had a desirable clean-cut and a palette that looked very modern yet very Hermès.