Sunday 29th September

| BY Claudia Croft

Comme Des Garçons: Ready-To-Wear SS20

The picture expands. This SS20 women’s collection was part two of a three-part creative trilogy culminating in December with Rei Kawakubo’s costume designs for Olga Neuwirth’s production of Orlando, opening at the Vienna State Opera. Kawakubo showed Orlando Act 1 at menswear in June, with a series of non-binary pieces reflecting the fluidity of Virginia Woolf’s time and gender-travelling character.

This women’s collection, felt distinctly feminine and the shapes had a sense of historicism – not literal renditions of historical silhouettes but enough to suggest a different time. Pretty pink 18th century silks and lavish brocades swatches were fashioned into full skirted frock coats and padded paniered gowns. There were fantastical sculptural ballooning creations made from collaged swatches of finery. One model was encased in a quilted eiderdown tube. Looks veered from the high romance of a red silk coat thick with ravishing rosettes of tulle to cocky logo tailoring which felt very ‘now’.

18 months ago, Rei Kawakubo shifted the approach for her Comme des Garçons women’s runway. After years of presenting catwalk pieces that were more like sculptures than clothes she started making fashion statements again. This show has many covetable and wearable pieces, not least the fringed velvet smoking jackets, oversized in cut and embroidered with the brand’s moniker. New to the cannon were curious padded leggings which distorted the legs. In fashion insider parlance this was a “strong Comme”. Kawakubo is clearly invigorated by her Orlando project. Roll on December and the conclusion of this fascinating trilogy.

Photographs by Jason-Lloyd Evans.