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Comme des Garçons Homme Plus S/S 13 - Paris

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PARIS, June 29, 2012

By Tim Blanks

As Comme des Garçons clues go, "Poor King" was positively loaded with narrative. Given those words to run with, the show might have been telling the tale of a down-on-his-luck royal lounging all day in pajamas, with a worn topcoat as an elegant relic of his past and a studded headband as a cut-rate simulacrum of the crown he once wore. That kind of fitted with what we saw. But Comme des Garçons has never been something to lightly take in a literal way.

Besides, light was the very opposite of the heavy-metal that riffed on the soundtrack. Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" churned while the models stepped over a metal frame laid on the floor like a lighting rig waiting to be raised. A spine of metal studs ran down their backs, and, as has been noted, their heads were crowned with metal, plus a fierily fake mop of hair. All of which might be construed as a musical idol subtext, with the straw men of rock making a poor substitute for the kings who once ruled us.

Setting aside such random speculation, what was irrefutable was the designer Rei Kawakubo's gift for making us question everything we hold familiar. The poor king's coats ranged from the traditional elegance of a frock coat, to a biker jacket cut from terrycloth and elongated to mid-calf, to an Oriental frog-closed coat-jacket, to a double-breasted velvet floor-sweeper that wouldn't have looked out of place in King Ludwig's court. In other words, a broad continuum of radically different times and places. Same with the pajama patterns: stripes, tartan, camo, animalia, glam-rock gold, each of them offering its own playful perspective on masculinity.

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