“The metallic materials I often use in my interior designs are very apt in expressing my ideas. I would like to transplant that strength of metal into the clothes this time. I call it METAL OUTLAW. Of course, the fabrics we use in the collection are not actually made of any metal, but have its sense of strength, of heavy weight, and the look of its sheen and gloss which now have come to form the theme of this collection,” said Rei Kawakubo in an email message from Tokyo.
Comme des Garçons unveiled a filmed mini-show for the men’s Homme Plus Spring 2021, a film of models wearing the spring clothes at the studio with a projection of background visuals showing the various locations of the city of Belém, from the new collaboration with the Brazilian photographer-artist-journalist Alberto Bitar.
“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,” further elaborated Kawakubo.
In menswear, the ideas may come and go, the fabrics may be high-tech one season and handmade in another, and collaborators change depending on the exigencies of each collection. But the hardware – the brand’s signature looks – once defined remained more or less constant, with just small alterations here and there.
The pure, succinct, and sharp presentation of a mini live show at the brand’s studio headquarters without any live streaming online was all about getting to the DNA of the Homme Plus brand this season, with clean and linear silhouettes and garments void of any confections of the recent past’s seasons. The knee-length coat cut diagonally at the front paired with either shorts or cigarette pants and shirt, and thin double-breasted jackets in silver stripes tucked into high waisted pants accessorized with white suspenders are classics Homme Plus looks adapted to this new season’s theme.
These signature styles are the brand’s hardware, the heart so to speak. The software is the seasonal updates.
The opening looks of all silver metallic shiny fabrics with its tough iron-ore protection reinforced these CDG signature garments that have manifested in many different ways in each season, but all the while are easily recognizable. Precise tailoring isn’t what the Homme Plus brand is known for but handcrafted tailoring has always been the centerpiece of every men’s collection, along with a mixture of sporty and casual garments.
Here the focus is on the structured single-breasted jackets with a broad and slouchy shoulder and narrow waistline and the trompe d’oeil effect of double layering the jackets-on-jackets that seemed to have the visual result of two jackets melded together unevenly and worn with slim matching pants or flared shorts with inward folded pleats or one with the extra-long sleeves. One of the strong looks is the slim black-grey layered jacket with blue and sliver sleeves paired with dotted shiny shorts. Casual options include the short black bikers, the uneven short pants, and the printed tee-shirts.
This collection feels cleansed of any extraneous decorations – neither ruffles nor bishop sleeves – simply nothing added to all the garments except for precise cutting and inventive mixing of fabrics to create fusion and patchwork effects, like the grey jacket with silver patterns in front and double-back-pleated vents or coat-jacket combination worn with asymmetrical shorts and printed tee-shirt.
These signature clothes have been part of the Comme des Garcons men’s staple of essential garments for such a long stretch of time that our eyes have adjusted since seeing them for the first time two decades ago. Today, no one would look twice at a male model wearing a dark green plaid wool jacket with matching over-the-knee skirt, or for that matter a silver jacket with a knee-length pleated aqua blue knee-length skirt.
This mini-show resembles a short poem, maybe even a haiku that begins with the five models all wearing clothes made from the shiny silver metallic fabrics; as the show progressed the clothes begin to loose their metallic fabrics from a green wool jacket with silver back to the end where only silver leather lapels decorated the black formal wear tuxedos.
Through this poetic vision visualized through clothes, Kawakubo is saying that the protection we all need from the metal is only temporary and that at the end we can all stand alone, stronger and with little need for any iron shield save perhaps for just the silver lapels on a black single-breasted pantsuit.
Alberto Bitar’s photographic artwork will probably be used in the meticulously printed mailer booklets, some with cut-outs and multiple foldouts for the coming spring season. Each of these creatively printed booklets serves as a news announcement of the arrival of a new collection at the global network of stores. Art and commerce are always intrinsically intertwined at Comme des Garçons.