Comme des Garçons Comme des Garçons
Does it worry you when people adapt your collections to soften their impact or commercialise them?
If my ultimate goal was to achieve financial success, I would have done things differently, but I want to create something new. I want to suggest to people different aesthetics and values. I want to question their being.
Rei Kawakubo in conversation with Susannah Frankel
S. Frankel, Visionaries: Interviews with Fashion Designers (V&A: London, 2001)
I have a bit of an odd relationship with Comme des Garçons - I love the crazier side of what Rei does and I wear the tamer side of what she does. As much fun as I would have wearing the hot pink suits from her Spring/Summer 2012 menswear collection, the reality is that my wardrobe is moving in a different direction. Thus I find myself hunting for one of the black (what else?) lace blazers from the same collection. Similarly if I look at the Comme pieces I currently own, or have owned in the past, they are undoubtedly from the quieter end of the spectrum. Indeed quiet is how I would choose to define my wardrobe these days - as I have said on numerous occasions before, a whispered beauty is for me the most alluring. But that was not always the case. In fact far from it.
In the past I wore amazingly bright colours and patterns, and although I no longer do so, I am still obsessed with colour. It seems a paradox to be sure - my clothes are black; my walls, floors and furniture are white; I try to have only a handful of possessions. But to my mind there is no particular disconnect between the two. For me it is merely about maintaining a balance. A blank white canvas and a canvas painted white are two very different things. I hesitate to use the phrase 'controlled outbursts', because I do not see my relationship with colour as something that needs to be consciously controlled or restricted in any way, but it is perhaps the easiest way to understand the state of things. I like engaging with the extremes, black and white, because in the absence of colour or pattern, you are forced to pay closer attention to the details. It is a learning process, and having that focus is incredibly helpful.
It is perhaps unsurprising then to learn that I am a major fan of BLACK Comme des Garçons. BLACK was initially intended to be a temporary line, reissuing classic Comme cuts with a more youthful touch (of course when it comes to reissues Comme des Garçons Evergreen comes to mind, but I believe that line is now unfortunately defunct). It has since become a fully fledged line of its own, however there has been a certain shift in emphasis and style since the line's conception. Although I do still enjoy the pieces, there has been a determined move away from unisex androgyny to a far more feminine styling. As such when it comes to my own wardrobe there are now only one or two pieces each season that I would consider, where in the past I wanted the majority of what was on offer. I do rather miss the black wool elasticated trousers from one of the early collections I owned, and would actually still quite happily buy one of the old above-the-knee boiled wool skirts to wear over trousers, so no doubt I will be returning to BLACK in the near future.
In a similar vein I adore older Comme des Garçons SHIRT far more than the majority of the current pieces. Looking at the images above I feel like Comme des Garçons Comme des Garçons is for womenswear everything I wish Comme des Garçons SHIRT was for menswear. CdG CdG is essentially a more everyday line, with typical Comme cuts executed in quieter colours and prints. And that is not to say that only the more basic styles are tackled - take for example the second to last photograph I have posted, that coat/cape hybrid is a reference to the coats featured in Looks 30-34 from the mainline Comme des Garçons Autumn/Winter 2009 collection (should you wish you can buy one from the lovely Gracia, aka Rosenrot, on eBay). I like the fact that the complexity of the garments are not watered down, for, just as with BLACK in its original form, it is simply about being able to wear Comme in a quieter fashion. And I love that.
I would personally recommend trying to see pieces in person if you can, for as ever, images hardly do the clothes justice. You can find CdG CdG on the top floor of Dover Street Market (...next to the Play) and also in the Avant Garde section at Liberty (on the second floor I believe).
"Comme des Garçons has always been committed to its quest for the new and unknown, to its experiments with the not-yet-seen-or-felt, and is even more so now, when it appears that fashion is avoiding risks. Continually questioning, encouraging individuality and looking to the future - this is Comme des Garçons' approach to creating clothes."