The clothes were as bright red as fresh blood flowing, as red as roses plucked from the earth and as profound as fashion can be.
“Roses and blood,” said Rei Kawakubo after a Comme des Garçons show with an apparently unstoppable flow of scarlet women, hair in grey curls like eighteenth-century courtiers, and feet in red boots.
Every blown-up, twisted and cut-out piece of fabric making up each outfit was stained the same shade.
Yet the show, in its strangely noble way, was not gruesome.
The red tape strangling the body actually let light in to shine on the skin. And the red lips of a model were smiling inside a transparent hood. The lapels of a coat could be seen clearly above the rest of the outfit, made up entirely from belts with buckles hanging.
As the first figure, with white wings of a wig, walked through the abandoned industrial space in a coat rich in roses, a voice on the soundtrack said, “Keep moving on,” in English and Latin. The music was Scott Walker mixed with Sunn O))), arranged by sound designer Frédéric Sanchez.
But there the flowers ended, to be replaced by leather pieces — by stuffed sausages of fabric curling across the breast or even long, curving cut-outs that were artistic, not bizarre.
In this highly wrought drama there was seduction: a dress that turned to reveal a bare back, and frou frou ruffles on underpants.
As is so often the case with Rei Kawakubo, there was beauty in the mayhem. Even puffy duvet coats, splattered with red as if after a violent fight, were appealing.
A Comme des Garçons show cannot be viewed as a summer wardrobe or as products for buyers. It is about a visceral, emotional reaction. And that was felt as the designer stood, a small figure in black, repeating over and over the same words: “roses and blood.”