Aren’t there enough anarchists in Paris, with the gilets jaunes planning more disruption for the 10th Saturday in a row and violent protestors getting in on the act, too? Come Saturday morning, shop windows will be boarded up once again, while on Friday night police were already gearing for more trouble.
Rei Kawakubo clearly thought there was room for a few more dark rebels, sending out a goth punk collection complete with inky black lips and fingernails and models wearing jangling harnesses, grabbing their crotches and giving the finger to photographers like a bunch of petulant teenagers.
There’s been a punk undercurrent running through Paris this season, with latex rippling and snapping its way through some collections, and classic clothing that’s been torn-up or somehow corrupted. That current has been running counter to the gentle, slouchy tailoring and warm colors that have been lapping over the runways, pushing street wear out to sea.
Kawakubo’s collection, which unfolded in a dark room that thumped with a live performance by the Los Angeles-based electronic duo Vowws, was mostly black. It offered up lots of the brand’s signature pieces, including dramatic white shirts and tailcoats, long and short. There were some nice dresses, too, columnar in shape, done in satin, lace, or with fringed edges.
The show was called “Embracing Beauty in the Dark” and the notes said its aim was “to embrace all of life; both good and bad, and to understand that even joy can be tinged with sadness, and that love can be bittersweet.” The notes referred to “beauty in the morbid” and the need to “embrace the shadows as well as the light.”
Special pieces included a short tailcoat covered in roses and gold brocade, a long silvery coat and others dotted with sparkles or holes. Barring those bright flashes, the show was one-note — and bordering on cliché — with all the stomping, seething young models who were also comically bad actors.
Although this show, and its gothic tones, was meant to channel anger about what is happening in the world, in particular populism and the decay of democracy, the mood seemed out of place, given this moment in French history, where chaos and anger have become the norm, erupting, with regularity, every Saturday.