Comme des Garçons

The founder and designer of Comme des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo, went for pure art with her collection. Working on the theme of the “ceremony of separation,” she showed the rituals and attire of mourning in a strange, ethereal collection that made some showgoers cry.

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It’s not practical, but it sure is eye-catching.
Image: Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

Set to the work of the neoclassical composer Max Richter, the show created a powerful emotional connection with its audience, as the best fashion does, and with it Kawakubo proved for the umpteenth time that she’s an endless fountain of ideas, and one of fashion’s all-time great artists. It succeeded in all the ways that young label Jacquemus, in its attempt at the fashion equivalent of art brut, fell flat.

Yohji Yamamoto

In Yohji Yamamoto’s fall offering, the designer contrasted the simplicity and ease of Grecian draping with wild architectural pieces, some large enough to monopolize the full width of a city sidewalk.

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Yohji Yamamoto showed a mix of the wearable and wonderful.
Image: Monica Feudi. Courtesy of Yohji Yamamoto.

In the mix were Yamamoto’s signatures: cascading black coats, oversized black pants, beautiful black jackets. Admittedly they’re clothes for a specific audience—those for whom there will never be a “new black”—but for Yamamoto’s fans the collection was certain to please.

Undercover and Sacai

The more commercial offerings from Japanese designers were by no means pedestrian. Jun Takahashi of Undercover offered a commentary on our obsession with beauty, presenting models in disturbing plastic masks and garments bearing decorative knives. Among the standouts were Takahashi’s oversized jackets, which were more restrained and refined in their proportion play than those from the Parisian “it” brand Vetements, yet still managed to make a staple such as a varsity jacket fresh again.

The Japanese label Sacai presented an outerwear-heavy collection that showed off designer Chitose Abe’s talent for mixing and manipulating fabrics. She embossed leather with cable-knit patterns and trimmed futuristic jackets in brightly colored fur. One of the country’s biggest talents, her show made it clear why Nike is eager to collaborate with her.

To be sure, non-Japanese designers also did some exceptional work. At Dior, Raf Simons showed a ”darker, more sexual” presentation full of striking textiles, including rich neon tweeds and furs multicolored like an oil slick floating on a puddle. Dries Van Noten presented his own spectacular fabrics in a stunning collection of Asian-inspired bohemia. And Alexander Wang turned in his best set of garments yet at Balenciaga.

But even amid this strong showing across Paris’s runways, Japan owns the season.

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