In lieu of the digital edition of Paris Fashion Week, Rei Kawakubo presented her collection for Comme des Garçons Homme Plus in a mini show at the company’s offices in Tokyo. Temperatures were checked at the entrance, masks were worn by everyone except models, and face shields were handed out to journalists on arrival. The seats inside the venue were also generously spaced, meaning attendance was sparse by design. Windows were left open for ventilation, and the show started and finished very promptly, with very little lingering around before or after.

It was a sign of how much has changed in the fashion world over the past six months, and of the difficulties brands face moving forward. And yet Kawakubo’s collection delivered signs of hope and strength: a bright spot during often dark and uncertain times.

In a release sent out after the show, the designer said she was inspired by the metallic materials that she often uses in her interior designs. This was clear from the start, when models emerged from behind a curved partition wearing futuristic silver suits. Kawakubo paired jackets with uneven hems with slim, cropped trousers; wide, knee-length shorts, or A-line skirts. As the collection progressed, the metallic elements became more subtle, and yet were ever present: shirts peeking out from under jackets, contrast lapels, or asymmetrical silver patchworking on black, gray or navy suits.

While the collection had plenty of smartly tailored pieces, it also included more casual looks, such as pinstriped motorcycle jackets and athletic-inspired shorts with stripes down the sides. Bright yellow, blue and green suits dabbed with silver played up the youthful vibe and injected a bit of playful optimism.

As Kawakubo wrote in the show notes, “It is my wish that the strength of metal, the strength that wouldn’t yield to any pressure or force, and the strength that will give birth to hope that we need to overcome the various hardships we now face, will all overlap in this collection.”

It’s a lovely sentiment, and one that underscores Kawakubo’s longevity in the industry. And while clothes may not always be seen as a source of strength, she proved that at times, they can be just that.

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