For his first full-scale runway show, Kei Ninomiya offered a sizable and harmonious bouquet that had clearly outgrown its nursery in the Comme des Garçons showroom. Blooms were everywhere, from the headdresses designed by Japanese floral artist Makoto Azuma, to whorls of fabric and jacquard patterns, to entire dresses that looked like flurries of petals shimmering with every step.
At a preview, he said they were a key to the fall collection. But the main theme of sorts he explored was “the power created by contrasting elements.” To do so, he put together opposing pairings in texture, volumes and scale. He opened the show with a dramatic dress made of a paper-chain structure decorated with pleated tufted tulle fans, before moving on with woven fabric.
As his chief preoccupation is “the new,” it was the relatively new-to-him quiet silhouettes that best showed the evolution of his designs. Fabric coats followed the same volumes as his sculptural dresses — only their different materials made them fall differently. Sweaters were knit around structures that removed the need for sewn seams, carving new volumes around the body. Trenchcoats and biker jackets, a favorite, were spliced with panels, textured or not, that modified their outline.
While he is not alone in exploring volumes, his competitive edge may be the balancing act between concept and clothing he learned under Rei Kawakubo. “It’s difficult to conceptualize my clothes with drawings. I start with the fabric, working it by hand,” he said.