Confessions of a Comme des Garçons Addict

Published March 19, 2019

Photo courtesy of Erinn Hermsen

Katharine K. Zarrella’s first encounter with Comme des Garçon took place in Paris when the fashion journalist crossed paths with a Fall 2008 look from the Junya Watanabe collection. “That was nothing like I had ever seen in my life,” she recalled. Zarrella, who is the founder of the must-read website Fashion Unfiltered, has since become a self-described Comme “addict” with a collection that includes those famous giant polka-dot tulle skirts and red baby-doll dresses. For our March Salad Pages, the editor and “fashion history fanatic” told Interview what it’s like to be afflicted with a obsession for the house that Rei Kawakubo built.

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I had my first personal Comme des Garçons experience when I moved to Paris, right after I graduated from college. I went to La Clairière near the Marais, and there was this look from the Fall 2008 Junya Watanabe collection that was like nothing I had ever seen in my life. It was a gray cocoon wool top with black pants. I bought the look and I’ve had to get it repaired a millions times because I wore it over and over again at the height of that summer. When my mom passed away in 2014, it was devastating to me. That’s when my Comme des Garçons obsession got really intense. I didn’t want to talk to anybody and I could wear these giant black pieces that kind of screamed without having to say anything. It was like this powerful armor.

Now, it’s become more joyful. The people in my building think I’m crazy because I’ll get into the elevator in a huge polka-dot tulle skirt and a giant red jacket and a top hat just to go across the street. Another favorite is that big red baby-doll dress from the Spring 2017 collection, which I was somehow magically able to acquire. It weighs about 1,000 pounds. I just wore it to have drinks at The Marlton and my friend had to help me lift my drink, because it’s very hard to move your arms. I had to have them cut in armholes, because the dress didn’t originally have any. I’m definitely not a sample size, so when by some magic my body squishes into these clothes, I freak out and usually start crying. It’s a process, but it’s always so exciting once you get the piece home and you can finally wear it around your apartment.