Only a generation or so ago, whether a suit jacket came with one vent, two vents or no vents was a topic for menswear professionals.
Scour the internet today and you can still find articles debating the question: “To vent or not to vent?” the website Men’s Flair asks.
On Friday evening at Comme des Garçons Homme Plus, Rei Kawakubo vented her magnificent suit jackets with tubes of fabric that resembled heating ducts. Single vents were inserted at the top of the spine, doubles dangled from the front, where chest pockets are usually found.
Jackets that were ventless sprouted other wondrous and wonky protrusions, including thick lengths of faux fur and stretches of padding, some resembling large travel pillows arched over the shoulder blades.
The unexpected volumes were reminiscent of her controversial “lumps and bumps” collection for women for spring 1997, but more controlled and deliberate. The padding on the front of jackets was sometimes placed where backpack straps might fall over the pinstripes of a Wall Street commuter.
“Tailoring of the avant-garde” were Kawakubo’s bon mots backstage, and would we expect anything less from the Japanese maverick?
The designer opened her display with sleeveless capes with sagging lining and jutting shoulders that brushed each other as models passed on the runway. Other capes resembled typical three-button jackets — fun in vivid plaids; soigné in plush black.
There was a playfulness to this show as Kawakubo opened windows on tailored jackets via zippers, or fur-rimmed cutouts. Shaggy textures popped up all over: Cue fringe on black sweaters and faux fur on the tips of tailcoats and the hems of roomy Bermuda shorts.
Just as her lumps and bumps elicited strong reactions, this avant-garde tailoring should get the menswear crowd venting.