Comme des Garçons Homme Plus Spring 2023 Menswear

To the scratchy strains of a horror movie soundtrack, Rei Kawakubo came back from Tokyo to confront Paris with a scary troupe of clowns. At first sight, it seemed as if her inclusion of classic child-scaring half-masks might have been some sort of comment on the social impact of Covid face coverings, but notes sent post-show confirmed that her reference went back centuries earlier. She was thinking about the tradition of medieval court jesters. Who were not just there to make people laugh.

“Another kind of punk” was her name for a collection of characters who trod the boards in harlequin-printed and striped pantaloons and an array of Comme des Garçons signature frock coats. Hooped t-shirts and shorts, and the bustled volumes in the skirts of coats built on the gathering impression that there was something uneasy on parade; a hinting at a sinister message beneath the absurd jollity of the patterns and shapes.

What to read into that? Kawakubo is the eternal punk. Whatever she designs is essentially her way of going against the forces of the mainstream. That’s certainly why she’d been pondering a parallel with the ancient role of the court jester, a stock figure in Shakespearian theater whose talent for divertingly rude antics disguises their ability to speak truth to power. A written translation of her exact words read thus: “Often they would be close advisors of the king. Coming from a different world with original ways of thinking, they would have the right to speak freely and give honest insights and advice. I imagined these jesters probably had punk spirit.”

In a way, it felt perhaps like a discomfiting commentary on the role of fashion itself, continuing with the performance of parading its wares even as the world burns. But it wouldn’t be a Comme show without the provocation of difficult sensations and unanswered questions. It was good to feel the in-our-faces force of that back, at last, in a physical space.

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https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-2023-menswear/comme-des-garcons-homme-plus, Vogue

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