Byline: Bridget Foley

NEW YORK — Strength in numbers? If the old adage is true, then the knockout of the upcoming Paris collections just might come on the evening of Oct. 14, when Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons and Martin Margiela stage a joint showing of their spring collections at the Conciergerie.
Both Kawakubo and Margiela are designer’s designers, lauded not only for their creativity and iconoclasm, but for their unyielding belief in intellectual provocation. Both designers also have taken their share of shots from critics who accuse them of fashion folly and artistic pretension.
The joint show should have plenty of fuel for both camps. Kawakubo has pushed runway limits, in recent seasons alone showing post-Armaggedon prom looks, Bozo the Clown stripes and her now infamous pillow collection that distorts various body parts with assorted lumps and bumps. (That collection formed the basis for costumes Kawakubo did for “Scenario,” a new Merce Cunningham ballet, coincidentally premiering at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Oct. 14.) And in his last collection, Margiela, long ago dubbed a deconstructionist, showed and shipped pieces that looked partially finished — for example, a half coat-half jacket.
The designers have a long history of mutual respect and collaborated once before, for the 20th edition of “Visionaire” published last February; Kawakubo was guest editor and Margiela was a contributor.
According to a joint statement issued by the houses, the collections will be presented “at the same place, one after the other….Our long-standing mutual respect, our closely guarded commercial independence and creative freedom allows us to decide to share this experience and the resulting synergy whilst maintaining our own identity.”
Asked whether models from both houses might appear together at any point, a spokesman for Margiela noted, “A show happens when the lights go down… There are no great preconceived notions to explore, except 0what this collaboration can bring.”

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