The higher-ups at Comme des Garçons allowed Noir Kei Ninomiya, the newest label from its brood, a small stage in a tight room at the company’s Place Vendôme showroom. Set with two risers for the runway, a few benches and only the sound of handful of photographers’ shutters snapping, there was little to distract from Ninomiya’s spring collection, which was worth the focus.
Faithful to the items that form the nucleus of Comme des Garçons fashion — the white shirt, perfecto jacket, black trousers and trench — Ninomiya’s point of differentiation is that he works almost exclusively in black, thus the name Noir. His challenge is to make something new within those strict parameters. “This time, I focused on the frame,” he said after the show. “I like to make a cocoon and make it transparent so I can focus on the people who are inside of something.” That idea was most overtly stated by two giant cocoons — a bomber jacket and a cape — woven from stiff, sheer nylon ribbon suspended around the body. Beautiful in shape, they were showpieces, while the rest of the lineup was comprised of exceptional everyday items done with clever constructions.
Ninomiya worked with denim for the first time, achieving a polished rawness on an apron dress with a swirled mermaid skirt that was partially made of woven strips, and jackets with sleeves sliced into circles and reassembled using metal rings instead of stitches. Avoiding traditional sewing techniques made some of the most interesting pieces, such as a tea-length dress made from a lattice of faux leather strips embroidered with fluttery nylon circles, and a soft black dress layered with panels of faux leather held together by silver balls. The unusual constructions didn’t overwhelm or intimidate — they were more of a secret bonus for those tickled by fashion geek details.