Rei Kawakubo was ready to play, with a collection called “Boyhood” that sparkled — in parts — like Dorothy’s ruby slippers while models wore party wigs — in pink, lime or screaming yellow — and carried rubbery kids’ toys like jelly molds on their asymmetrical tailcoats, oversize T-shirts and high-top sneakers.
As America watched Donald Trump prepare to be sworn in as America’s 45th president, Kawakubo provided a spectacle all her own, one that was filled with contrasts: dark and bright; long and short; matte and sparkly; innocent and sinister.
She put her individual stamp on so many of the trends that are emerging this week — protective layering for turbulent times, deconstruction, ath-leisure-inspired ease — and lots of playfulness.
Kawakubo’s boys, their heads adorned with mop-top wigs, sported patchwork tailcoats paved with ruby sparkles, or dusted with bright blue ones. Shiny quilted flowers — or matte flocked ones — blossomed across the fronts of some jackets while embroidered white horned skulls or spiders and colored, rubbery molds in the shape of animals and toy trains popped on the backs and fronts of others.
Some tailcoats had only one tail — the other side was lopped off — while other jackets were so wrinkled they looked as if they’d been slept in for at least a week. They were layered over long and fluttery cotton tunic shirts or tight crop tops, fur vests and dark frilly ones, too. When she wasn’t working her palette of black, Kawakubo was dabbling with print — specifically an abstract camouflage one — in primary brights that mirrored the colors of the rubbery toys.
Those toys were by Scott Hove while the Nike Air Force 1s were customized by the house. The prints were by Candida Alvarez.
Trousers came in exaggerated shapes and sizes, including ballooning Charlie Chaplin ones that tapered around the ankle and wide and floppy shorts that hit just past the knee.
Did her show rival the one unfolding on the steps of the U.S. Capitol? Probably not, but it was an attention-grabber nonetheless and proof that Kawakubo remains a fashion superpower.