So the new COMME des GARÇONS HOMME PLUS collection was shown last week.
What do we think? The gnomic phrase Kawakubo provided to describe the collection, through lovely hubby Adrian Joffe, was "Holy Suit". Or was that "Holey Suit"? Another journalist had it as "Holy Jacket".
Indeed, the constant cutaways fuel one's rampant speculation about the homophonery. Holy or Holey? The holes in the shoes are kind of a bummer. Overall though, it's cute right? I kind of felt like this collection doesn't have anything for me, nothing I want. Since I never wear suits, for a number of reasons. But as usual, there's some stuff to break down here as well. I admire the big bright flouncy shirts and boxy shorts (I always do). I like the wide-legged floppy and sexy pants. I just don't get down with suit jackets. But maybe I ought to. These ones are plainly beautiful, I like the cutouts for pockets. I like the idea of a holy suit, a kind of magical outfit, a holy grail or something. I'm trying to unpack it.
One thing I saw and definitely immediately wanted was the SWEATERS!
Right? These are awesome. There's a fantastic interview with Adrian Joffe in the Financial Times providing scant and scintillating details about his life and work alongside Kawakubo-san. Among the handful of anodyne and lovely details imparted (“One of Rei’s favourite words is ‘common sense’") is when Joffe is describing their decision to locate the new Dover Street Market NY in Kipps Bay; "Rei always says that we can’t copy ourselves.”
And yet, these sweaters do seem sort of classic CdG, no?
This is a "lace" sweater from 1982. Our beloved legendary fashion gourmand Suzy Menkes referred to these sweaters at the time as "Swiss cheese sweaters". In her Times review of the Fall 2014 HP show, she misremembers them as "Gruyère cheese sweaters".
As the story goes for the 1982 collection, Kawakubo sneaked into the factory to fuck up the automatic knitting machines, loosening screws until the machines started to produce the perfectly-deconstructed sweaters she envisioned. I don't know if that's true, doubtlessly CdG's production is extensive enough that they don't need to resort to that kind of experimentation anymore. Whatever the case, I want one of those nasty sweaters.
I once had a lovely Homme Plus sweater from the mid-90s which I loved very much, but it started to get eaten by moths. It was not as lovely an effect as the intentionally-holed sweaters. I should have thrown it out as soon as I noticed, but I didn't throw it out-- I hid it in the back of my closet. And then the moths proceeded to eat through every wool thing I own, including a lovely CdG Homme jacket I had to pay an insane amount to have repaired, and my beloved pair of black wool BLACK CdG drop crotch pants. What's more, I also immediately stained my BLACK pants by sitting on wet oil paint during a studio visit with an artist. SO: I'm saving up for one of these nasty sweaters, but I'm also saving up for a new pair of BLACK CdG drop crotch pants, hopefully in somewhat less appetizing boiled polyester. If anyone would like to buy these for me, please do. My point is: if I had one of those HolEy sweaters, I wouldn't care if moths ate it, because it would sort of fit with the look, anyway.
It's sort of the type of thing that you could make yourself, but not really. Of course those holes aren't accidentally or randomly produced. I'm certain there's a very detailed pattern. They retain the basic shape and weight of knitted sweaters-- it's designed, henney.
But so okay, let's talk about the other elephant in the room, The hair. The hair-faces. The coiling hair-masks by (who else?) Julien d'Ys.
She wants the d'Ys. Julien d'Ys nutz.
So, when I saw these I immediately thought of Cthulhu, HP Lovecraft's modern apocalyptic beast-god with tentacled face. I obviously thought Kawakubo was a big sci-fi fan, kind of a steampunk nerd, archaic occultist. The Cthulhu association reminds me of this new song by none other than Brīīī, his debut jam, in fact, a slow-burning anthem or surrender titled "Cthulhu Take The Wheel":
Isn't that a pretty song? Aren't you excited for his record to come out? Aren't you excited for his amazing LIVE SHOW?! I want to be the opening act, I do. Kawakubo should have used this song as her runway music. You know what else would have been a great song for this collection's runway show (which had sort of lacklustre music, if you ask me)? Another great song for this runway show would have been B0DYH1GH's own "H0LY D1G1T":
In which Perfect Little Daniel finds herself perched way up high on that "God Is A Number" trip, only with the devil. I think? I never know what she's singing about.
Anyways, I'm thinking Cthulhu when I see those hairfaces, but as is so often the case, my initial guess was way off base. Julien d'Ys said that the hair-face-tentacles were, in fact meant to represent Ganesha.
You know, that old queen. The god of wisdom and intellect. That is sort of fitting. That makes more sense. So, then, "holy" indeed. The homophone must be a joke. It has to be. I bet Kawakubo probably only told d'Ys "Holy Suit" and so he went with something Holy. Just a guess.
And in fact I guess I see that-- a radiant costume; religious robes. In the 1980s, the gnarled hole sweaters were about deconstruction. That they were called "Lace" is no accident (I think that was a theme of the collection? Am I mistaken?). These new hole sweaters are something else; they are immaculate and also porous. They look almost like wounds, like stigmata? Or as if the suit was magickal enough to be somehow transparent, see-through. The effect of layering collars onto long coats is both attractive and repulsive. It's regal, but it's also kind of creepy. God-wear. Ghost-wear.
There are many many stories about Ganesha and the various aspects of his iconography. My favorite story if Ganesha is that he's missing one of his tusks because he ripped it off and threw it at the moon. Because the moon was laughing at him.
Last week also saw the Fall collection from COMME des GARÇONS SHIRT. I'm glad that Style has started covering the show, it is, as they note, a huge part of CdG's menswear business. To my mind, the SHIRT collection is much more widely sold, at least in the US. The line started in the 1988 with a focus on (what else?) shirts, but eventually branched out. My understanding was that it's a little younger, more basic, trendier and supposedly cheaper. These days that's not always the case. Back in 1988 there was apparently a totally separate SHIRT shop in New York, where shirts topped out at $210, which would be a real bargain by today's standards.
Anyway, I love SHIRT. It's where, as Style is smart to note, where CdG collaborates the most with other brands and artists. For their Fall 2014 collection, they collaborated with Tokyo-based French artist, set designer and illustrator Nicolas Buffe. Which is fantastic. I like the sort of woo-woo sentimentality of the hand-drawn designs worked into the zany objectivism of SHIRT's normal look.
But I'm also more interested in the weird CdG experimental stuff too. Like here, they added circular hems to where the shirt buttons: Elsewhere, the shapes are twisted or patched or deconstructed. Kawakubo claims to think of mens wardrobe as being one of fundamental basics: shirt, pants, jacket. But within those fairly broad categories, the actual components of those pieces do get reinterpreted fairly freely. I didn't see many jackets in the SHIRT collection, but the pants included the now-classic drop-crotch ones I need to replace, and the shirts are perfectly serviceable, perfectly batty. You could wear them just as easily to a nightclub as an office, at a gallery opening or a wedding. I want to collect them all.
I'm obsessed, I want it all.