One could question the location Rei Kawakubo chose this season to present her Comme desGarçons Fall/Winter 2019/2020 collection. She picked the hall of a neoclassical building on rue Cambon—though not the famous number 29! As always, Kawakubo intervenes with the space. Here she created a stage from the marble flooring, overlaid with strips of red-passé carpet. This small arena is enclosed by a few rows of benches and six long, lighted perches—the same machines that will later follow each model in an idiosyncratic ballet, giving the set a futuristic twist. As usual, the assembly is small, but one should know Kawakubo is not here to convince a large audience, but rather one that focuses.
Silence. The show is about to start. The lights turn off, the room is dark, and the ambiance feels quite enigmatic. Rei Kawakubo holds her crowd in a meditative state for one minute of silence. Strangely, this minute feels like eternity—long enough to understand the roles that gravity and magnitude play in this collection. Finally the show starts, with a discontinuous soundtrack from the back. One by one each model comes out to follow the patch of a square—making sure to pass by every corner—and meet at the center. Yet we feel a sense of disorder on stage, and in the air.
The ambiance is austere: each silhouette is uniquely worked with fastidious details and crafted in a range of solid black materials that echo throughout the space like shadows of knights stepping out of the nightfall. This season, Kawakubo envelops her women in a voluminous armor, dark and rigid. The collection recalls medieval and ecclesiastical themes reinterpreted in a raw couture spirit. One purple garment questions signs of royalty. As always, Kawakubo dazzles with radical strength and bold engagement.
Lutz invited his audience to the Salle Pleyel in Paris to present his spring 2019 collection. While the red light on the red carpet recalled a nightclub ethos, the Art Deco style of the room harks back to classical and traditional qualities in the atmosphere.
His collection followed this path with rigorous cuts and odd techniques, and illustrated well the breach between past and present times. There was a feeling of couture in the air: a puff-cocktail dress in jacquard under a man’s trench coat, a range of pearls adjusted on the waist to underline a polka-dot dress worn with a bomber jacket. Lutz uses contrasting materials and opposing styles to write stories about people, their differences in age and gender, and how the act of dressing could set them free.
Lutz is a designer whose concerns about gender equality have always been an important part of his practice. It’s a steady course he has pursued since the mid-nineties. Today, his singular fashion is finally meeting a broader audience.
Noir Kei Ninomiya’s défilé spring 2019 took place in the same building where Junya Watanabe staged his own a floor below a couple of hours earlier. There is a logical reason for this: both designers are part of the Comme des Garçons group. That aside, Ninomiya takes a very personal and specific approach to clothing.
He knows his classic: the leather jacket. He also knows how to inflect it over a mix of traditional (silk, jersey, tulle) and technical (pvc, tape) materials. His practice is rare, handcrafting fabrics with layers, knots, and pleats—avoiding stitching—that renders a couture-like sensation of unique pieces at each passage. His silhouette is based on a combined play of elongated, spherical, and spacious shapes. The atmosphere is mysterious like in an enchanted forest, where his models resemble night owls with soft, ball hairdos, leaving behind a rain of natural powder.
With this presentation, Ninomiya proves with ease and generosity that he is a noteworthy designer of great skill and expertise.
Bernard Tschumi’s Architecture and Disjunction is a classic, definitive collection of the French architect and theorist’s essays and lectures. Best known for his design for the Parc de la Villette in Paris, with its colorful, deconstructivist folies (the result of a collaboration with postmodernist architect Peter Eisenmann), Tschumi has been theorizing about the definition and expansiveness of the architectural field for decades.
In an informative essay titled “Architecture and Happiness”, Tschumi eloquently elaborates the theory that space directly affects the human psyche, and its design can help engineer our happiness or our sense of profound alienation. The latter effect is detailed in his title essay, “Architecture and Disjunction”, in which disjunction is not simply a spatial configuration that induces alienation, but a critical reimagining of architectural space that critically reflects on existing power structures and systems of capital.
Tschumi also poses several dozen captivating questions about the nature of architectural space in a single list. A few are reproduced below:
Architecturally, if space is the medium for the materialization of theory, is a space the materialization of the architectural concept?
Does the experience of space determine the space of experience?
Do all spaces in society taken together constitute a language?
Is space the product of historical time?
If space is an in-between, is it a political instrument in the hands of the state, a mould as well as a reflection of society?