The Japanese March on Paris



Rei Kawakubo is one twisted sister. The Comme des Garçons collection she presented on Saturday in the refractory of Paris’s Palais de la Femme, a women’s sanctuary, was an ode to the wedding dress in all of its blinding white impossibility. Ah, all that whipped cream and ceremonial décor; Kawakubo poured it over her dresses with huge floral sleeves in lace-textured fabrics. It was a virginal parade in white to off-white, from start to finish. And the most intriguing aspect was the headdress. Kawakubo’s snowball heads were almost demure at first. But what looked like an impression of whipped cream in Styrofoam first became a growth, then gradually covered the model’s faces completely. Trapped towards the end in a soft, padded white satin cage, the Comme des Garçons bride for spring 2012 marched gracefully, revealing every now and then something truly wearable for the brand’s fans—a very cool pair of lace shorts.
Junya Watanabe was almost as chicly remote as Kawakubo. His show was held in the “Salle Noire” basement of Paris’s Maison des Métallos, a sleek, city of Paris-funded community space dedicated to extremely avant-garde artistic expression in the Belleville Ménilmontant neighborhood. It is absolutely one of the most difficult places to reach for anyone who doesn’t know the city like the back of their hand and has been Watanabe’s his preferred venue for several seasons now. The devoted assembled for a fantastic treatise on colored lace. Watanabe’s purple floral with green leaf lace looked like it had been thrown over the models like a tablecloth. And then he attacked the trench coat, one of his favorite iconic shapes. Watanabe’s spring trench coats look Edwardian and are distorted with too-long sleeves and in cape shapes. They are wonderful. And when he combined the colored lace dresses and the trench in one piece it was time to leave the Salle Noire for a bit of fresh air.

Yohji Yamamoto has always been into brides and he’s decidedly less-is-more when it comes to body revealing, but his demure looks are so attractive. Yamamoto is the poetic women’s best friend. This season’s collection was awe-inspiring. Yamamoto opened with a Cecil Beaton style “My Fair Lady” hat in stiff black net with a frilly loose ruffle deep blue dress. And then he was off to the races with baggy men’s trousers, tight waiter’s jackets and pleated bib-front grandpa shirts. The trousers got progressively baggier, and then he went into an impression of Edwardian ladies’ corseted jackets, peasant dresses—one in pale lavender worn with a deep violet apron and marvelously alluring blouses slit across the shoulder to reveal a previously uncharted erogenous zone.