Paris Fashion Week: What It's Like to Go to a Comme des Garçons Collections Show

Paris Fashion Week: What It's Like to Go to a Comme des Garçons Collections Show


What it's like outside: A surreal tangle of street style photographers and the people they're there to capture-those highly select and incredibly adventurous, dedicated, rarified few who actually wear Comme des Garçons Collections.

What it's like in the front row (where Olivia and Raul were seated, mind you): Anna Dello Russo was there (see her behind her baby blue phone case?), Grace Coddington was just to the left a bit, and next to her, Vogue Italia's Franca Sozzani. In other words: the whole world is there.

And then again, they're really not. Where many Fashion Week shows feel like stadium concerts, a Comme des Garçons Collections presentation feels like an intimate one-act play in an underground theater. Even the photographer's pit was about one quarter the size of the pit at a big name show. In a word, a Comme des Garçons Collections show is incredibly special.

What it smells like: A rich, heady combination of the exclusive CDG eau de parfum 2, the sophisticated Wonderwood, and the very populist scent Hinoki from the Monocle line.

What it sounds like: An adult lullaby. Like "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" interpreted by someone like Philip Glass or Brian Eno-but then adapted even further into abstraction and surrealism.

What the clothes are not like: A Comme des Garçons Collections show is probably never going to contain blue jeans and pencil skirts. A Comme des Garçons Collections collection is not about outfitting your 9 to 5-unless maybe you're Anna Della Russo. This branch of the CDG family tree is about concepts, ideas, and surprise. It is not traditional ready-to-wear.

What the clothes were like: Full of structured, armor-like ball gowns built out of gorgeous floral jacquards in pink, red and army green tones and shown with articulated suits, pan-cultural black wigs and furry pink sneakers,Rei Kawakubo mashed up Parisian courtesans with medieval knights and the most fabulous drapery and upholstery store you can imagine to conjure what felt like an army of feminist revolutionaries.

What it's like when the show is over: A little bit anticlimactic. The models had walked so slowly, as if in a dream. Time didn't standstill, but it really hit the pause button. So after the last girl slipped back into the backstage area at the end of the runway, we just sort of waited. And then waited a little more. Quiet, vaguely unsure clapping confirmed that the finale walk we weren't sure if we should wait for was not going to happen. And then quietly, we all left.

What it's like coming and going: Typically speaking, Rei and company don't stage their shows in grand, expressive venues. The brand would seem to prefer a gallery-like basement. Maybe it was just the contrast-and the fact that it was Saturday and other business wasn't in session-but as we walked upstairs through the typically Parisian spaces above the subterranean show area, our surroundings took on the air of some future-ancient space station. When we finally stepped out into the daylight, it felt like waking from a dream.

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-Laura Cassidy

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