Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large
One of the many benefits of flitting to Paris during fashion week is that even if you don't get there in time for a particular show, or if you are too low down the fashion food chain to be awarded a ticket, then you can still get up close with the clothes which are shaping up the forthcoming season with a visit to the showroom. In many cases, you could argue that these are even better places than a catwalk show to understand the shapes, the colours and the fabrics.
And so it was that today I stopped off at Comme des Garcons' home on Place Vendome. Having diligently studied the show reviews in advance, I was fully mentally prepped for the fact that Rei Kawakubo's approach to SS14 was mostly about forgetting that she was designing clothes. She apparently had no ideas for clothes and so sought to create a kind of art installation centred around the body. The ultimate expression, perhaps, of the SS14 mega-trend for art? Anyway, the main point of this Comme des Garcons collection was probably that it was viewed in the complementary space of a show venue where each outfit had its very own soundtrack and, like an art gallery, the light and sound were under complete control. The showroom, by contrast, is a bustling room full of busy buyers and sales agents closing deals on taking these apparently non-clothes (or more truthfully, their more commercial counterparts) into stores across the world. It's the place where that vital link from catwalk to shopfloor is really made.
I might not have been able to imbibe Kawkubo's entire seasonal ethos but it was super interesting to experience the show pieces laid out neatly on tables and displayed clothes-like (not to sound churlish) on mannequins. Many of the dresses you see in my tumble of pictures below are made in a defiantly non-fashion fabric which I have been trying to fathom all day; it's something like a jay-cloth, very polyester-ish and very, very similar to the hydrophobic sort of thing which might make-up a mattress protector or lining for something around the house. One thing's for sure, it's probably never been pleated, stuffed and stitched in Comme way before. Equally fascinating was the footwear which was entirely sole-less so that really they were only footwear covers- these came as brightly coloured bootees and childlike, painted lace-ups.
A new reason to look forward to next Spring... seeing how this is going to translate for street style stars and on the floor at Dover Street Market A.K.A how will non-clothes become fashion?