A#20 curator Pierpaolo Piccioli incited a monumental artistic dialogue for the Valentino Haute Couture AW2021-22 collection, inviting 15 artists to create garments directly linked with works of contemporary art.
Comme des Garçons Homme Plus AW2021-22
In Tokyo, Rei Kawakubo’s ‘Darkroom’
by Arieh Rosen & Noam Levinger
Reporting from Tokyo, Noam Levinger and Arieh Rosen visit Comme Des Garçons HQ for an intimate audience with Rei Kawakubo’s ‘Homme Plus’ collection for Autumn Winter 2021-22.
It’s dark, and the rhythm of their movement is so quick that it’s almost impossible to focus. While the eye slowly acclimatises to the darkness, silent models march through a bright beam of light. They disappear as quickly as they appear, only to return further down the room. Their faces are all but covered by the bulky wigs on their heads: black hair that seems to have been rolled in tar or cast from rubber thick enough to support the weight of American artist Willie Cole’s protruding stiletto headpieces. But perhaps is it their meaning that is heavier than their physical mass.
They keep coming at a rhythmic pace, in unison with Tim Love Lee’s E7007, an original soundtrack. From time to time, the next one moves to a new light beam. There’s something familiar in the clothes: crisp white tailoring, Hawaiian prints, plaid tweeds, hound’s tooth. It’s a language that we’ve heard before, but we enjoy savouring its sounds, its shapes, anew.
“It is in this world sunk in darkness that we must search and find something new” — Rei Kawakubo
Here’s a leg, reaching forward in a haughty move. A gentle kitten heel on that masculine frame, reminiscent of men’s shoes from 18th century Europe. There are so many ‘feminine’ curves in the textiles, over the body. There are heels on their heads, too. A work of art or a horn of protection? It’s all mixed up, and upside down, as confusing as an image or a form may be in any kind of darkroom as one attempts to discern form amongst the shadows.
Cole’s sculptures are also printed on the clothes, evoking a layered assemblage of Pop, Dada, Futurism and Surrealism.
“Just as photographs reveal their images in the darkroom, so can creation” — Rei Kawakubo
“Creation can arise in a dark place where not only the visual but all the six senses come into play” — Rei Kawakubo
Words & photography: Noam Levinger & Arieh Rosen
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