There’s nothing particularly shocking about a cleanly cut coat — unless it’s the first look coming toward you at a Comme des Garçons show. Has Rei Kawakubo dared to go spare? Answer: No, but guests still got quite a surprise when the model turned around. Said coat, made from slicked faux snakeskin, was actually worn pinafore-style, neatly tied together at the shoulders. The back opened to reveal an adorable pair of shorts with ruffles at the hem. And so the show began, with Kawakubo playing deft surgeon, taking scalpel to cloth for expertly bisected and dissected tailoring. No garment was complete. There were backs of coats worn like capes; fronts were apronlike; left halves, and rights. Wear one and you got those ruffly bloomers and a swath of sheer fabric around the bust to cover you up. Combo two and that read like an intriguing hybrid garment — as in the chic frock coat-cum-trench. Add a sleeve to a dress. Pair half a jacket to a sheath. If the patchworking motif rules for fall, then Kawakubo’s serving it up DIY style — mix and match your own collaged look. It wasn’t the designer’s most revolutionary outing, but powerful nonetheless.
Kawakubo went beyond those streamlined men’s wear-inspired openers. She indulged in some major bunching, ruching, knotting and crinkling, and threw in a metallic jacquard blazer or two — or just fractions thereof. On the frothier and more colorful side was a scarf story. Kawakubo whipped up dresses from spliced-together kerchiefs in a miscellany of vintage prints, occasionally adding rows of tight ruffles for visual intrigue. At a time when everyone is delving into those digital, computerized, Photoshopped, iPhoned graphics, these magpie mash-ups of retro florals, paisleys and grandmotherly patterns felt, well, comforting. One phrase came to mind, which was nicely punctuated by the show’s quirkly finale of all-gold looks: Kawakubo’s still got the Midas touch.