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comme des garcons, issey miyake, yohji yamamoto archived articles

Daily News Record; 2/2/1993


"This is going to be like a home-cooking show," said designer Issey Miyake before his Sunday-morning breakfast presentation. Miyake sat with the small audience at his first show, following his "script" -- a run-of-show that described the various dip-dyeing, crinkling, crumpling, shrinking, enzyme-washing, electro-cutting, laminating and lacquering processes he'd used to achieve special-effect fabrics. And special they were -- for reversible quilted nylon bombers, blue or black "splash" swing coats, twisted striped-tie-silk vests and tri-color tweed sport coats. Miyake is what one would term a special-niche designer, creating high fashion for the few, not the masses. Perhaps the normal, run-of-the-mill man won't understand his lightweight electro-cut coats, which have no hems, no linings and are somewhow sealed where the fabric is cut, but the customer he designs for will. Miyake says he wants things to be clean, comfortable and lightweight -- for travel, for the modern man -- and he calls his clothes as he sees them.


One doesn't have to be an art critic to understand Rei Kawakubo's fall collection for Comme des Garcons Homme Plus. In homage to "artists in their studios," Kawakubo painted a purple strip down the runway and stirred in several well-known artists -- among them, Robert Rauschenber, Mike and Doug Starn and Shakespearean actor Alan Rickman -- and sculpted her painterly designs about them. It was a theme and concept that pleased Rei greatly; never have her collection, her choice of music for the show and her colors been more upbeat. In fact, the designer -- known for her stoic, frozen facial expression -- cracked a small smile on the runway after the show.

Rei the painter dip-dyed pinstripe shirts, jackets and pants, and juxtaposed just-shades-off plaid jackets and pants. Rei the sculptor took artistic license with hook vents, hers being the kind with hook-and-eye closures, pushed flap pockets on jackets from the hips to the back, added on knit "hems" to rayon suit pants and vests, and molded vests over cardigans worn long and untucked. She crinkled, wrinkled and washed wool tweed, and mixed up batches of shirts part knit, part woven. She ended on a very happy note, indeed -- to the tune, "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime." At that moment, most in the audience did.

WWD; 3/20/1992

Comme des Garcons

OPINION: She may not be everybody's cup of sake, but Rei Kawakubo's showed one of her best collections.

DIRECTIONS: Kawakubo is obviously feeling the recession in Japan. Her show was a parade of lack, which took its tone from the opening song, "The Boulevard if Broken Dreams." But, despite all the bleakness, the clothes were full of hope and new ideas. Kawakubo tied men's white shirts around waists, replacing the skirt, stitched swatches of fabric to hang off the backs of blazers and sent out a parade of beautifully cut, long, black, sheath dresses, all accessorized with bright cotton-candy wigs and black rubber platform shoes. The destroyed look, which Kawakubo pioneered years ago, is now a staple on other European runways, but season of practice have left her as the mistress of unfinished hems, ripped necklines and shredded chiffon.

FIXATIONS: Baring the bosom, but most of the big models managed to cover up before they reached the photographers' nest at the end of the runway.

COLORS: Black, black, and more black.

BEST NEW IDEA: The stitched swatches of contrasting fabrics attached to jackets and evening dresses.

DIRECTION: Paris's Queen of the Culotte appeals to the wench in a girl. Her Venice-Carnivale-inspired collection would be perfect for the players in a bawdy period bedroom comedy, with all the redingotes, crinolines, beads, satin corsets and pushup bras in harlequin prints. Thomass's dresses and bodysuits give a lady many opportunities to unzip here and unsnap there. She sent out a series of blazers and coatdresses with strategic round cutouts over heart or cheek, the better to show off her signature black lace dainties. One of the best ideas: a series of raincoats in black or white lace, embedded in clear vinyl. All in all, it should make for a steamy scene in Thomass's big new shop on rue Vivienne, opening in May.

BERNHARD HITS THE CATWALK: She may be a regular stage hound, but when Sandra Bernhard made her runway debut at Comme des Garcons, she appeared somewhere between nerve-struck and terrified. Of course, it didn't help that her first entrance was in the ugliest dress in Rei Kawakubo's collection. But by her second pass on the catwalk, Bernhard--who flew in from London where her show is a sellout--was in typical saucy from, making faces at the photographers and barking at Linda Evangelista. "Me? Nervous?" she said later. "Of course not. It was great, I'm addicted. Yeah, I'm a fashion addict."

WWD; 10/20/1989

COMME DES GARCONS: Rei Kawakubo promised kitsch and more color than she's had on the runway in her seven years of showing here. She also obviously tried for a lighter touch with Marlon Brando biker caps and jaunty satin top hats. But with few exceptions the show was nothing but her old complex layers -- only in Day-Glo greens and pinks instead of her usual blackout.

Still, Rei must be doing something right since Comme des Garcons' annual volume is $95 million, according to the company. Most of that comes from Japan, where Kawakubo is a big star. Perhaps underneath all those fashion bundles were a few good looks. It was hard to tell. Possibilities included the white plastic Eisenhower jacket, bright patchwork bubble skirts, plaid pants and vests with pieces of jagged mirrors like a New Age Paco Rabanne.

Bernie Ozer, senior vice president of Associated Merchandising Corp., said: "It didn't look like the Nineties. I respect Kawakubo's talent, but this show was like a retrospective."

YOHJI YAMAMOTO: Yamamoto used to be trendy; now he's just old-fashioned. Does the world really need another malproportioned sheath, or pants that look like a special order for Ringling Bros.? Probably not. But YY keeps turning them out anyway. The only news is that some of his stuff is getting Romeo Gigli-esque.

WWD; 3/18/1988

After a few seasons of feminine, soft clothes, Rei Kawakubo was up to her old tricks again in the Comme des Garcons collections, which opened the second day of fall ready-to-wear shows here.

Jackets and coats were the big victims of Kawakubo's gimmickry. Some had no backs. Others had cutout armholes to allow the blouses beneath to peek through. Or mannequins slipped their arms through them with sleeves dangling loose at their sides.

Some were fitted in front, with exaggeratedly flared backs, and there were the usual asymmetric cuts sending jackets askew. And for those who may not want a jacket at all, Kawakubo's solution is to just simply throw on a lapel or two.

All this business went over easy flaring or gathered skirts that were midcalf or longer, wide pants cropped at midcalf, or tight pedal pushers.

When she forgoes her gimmicks, though, there are details and items here that look good.

Among them: high waistlines done with subtle shaping or cropped boleros, some so short they look like yokes; longer lengths and easy fluid shapes; chemises, redingotes and pants, and the black satin strapless evening dress that flares out over crinolines.

The only time she veered away from her limited color scheme of red, black and cream was with a group of colorblock jerseys in primary brights.

On hand to watch the Kawakubo antics were her longtime friend Yohji Yamamoto, who showed later in the day, and Italian designers Romeo Gigli and Franco Moschino. But Kawakubo did not bother to take her bows at the end of the show.

Mercifully, the audience was spared the gimmicks at Yohji Yamamoto's collection later in the day. They weren't spared, however, a tedious, slow-paced show with blank-faced mannequins walking to the monotonous sound of piano exercises.

A half hour into the show, one photographer shouted, "Shoot the piano player!"

As for the clothes, the message here is deadly serious, with suits, dresses and coats following an easy line. Many caress the body at the top, curve in at the waist and either flare or round out over the hips.

Except for a handful of shorts and a few above-the-knee skirts, lengths here are midcalf and longer. Yamamoto sticks to somber colors -- black, navy, brown, dark green, bordeaux -- and the effect is stark, almost to the point of bleak.

He does play around with his signature asymmetric cuts: jacket hemlines dipping forward, skirts dipping backward or into long points at one side, or one side of a jacket or skirt a cut few inches longer than the other.

But the look, as with most of the collection, remains pure. Cropped jackets and boleros, which are showing up all over the European runways, are most effective at Yamamoto topping long slender skirts or very wide midcalf pants.

Another of the season's favorite themes -- high waists -- show up in suspendered skirts that start at the knee in front, then dip to the ankle at back.

Daily News Record; 9/9/1986; Fressola, Peter


Although Rei Kawakubo's classic tailored clothing is still the core of her Comme des Garcon's Homme collection, which is sold in the showroom, the showing of her spring/summer 1987 collection presented the designers more experimental views toward tailored men's wear.

There is always the feeling with Kawakubo's collections that the designer is trying to solve certain intellectual problems. For next season it is the current men's wear debate over the proportion and shape of tailored garments. Consequently, Kawakubo's collection for next season explored all the possibilities.

There were loose fitting, baggy jacket models with dropped shoulders that contrasted with other tight, body-hugging jackets. There were long, eight-button, double-breasted jackets with peak lapels. Another long silhouette peak lapel jacket featured one-button like a morning coat.

Other, close to the body sport coats included a three-button notch lapel model and a short, hip-length, two-button version. All the jackets were paired with loose-fitting trousers.

Kawakubo's gave her fans a respite from her characteristic black with a group of tailored jackets and trousers shown in shades of peach, pink and pale banana. The season' prominent trend toward monochromatic dressing was well represented at Comme des Garcons with another group of tailored garments that was shown in slightly non-matching shades of beige and rose beige. The slightly off feeling was carried out further by the jacket being tailored in striped fabric, while the trousers were in a smallish windowpane check.

Under the jackets, Kawakubo showed knit polo shirts, zip-front polo shirts, and zip-front mock turtleneck, as well as the designers trusty white T-shirts.

Other highlights of Comme des Garcons included: Unconstructed dusters, hip-length tube jackets with knit collars; color blocked or pieced jersey knit tops inspired from bicycle shirts, and loose fitting baseball jackets.

Daily News Record; 2/4/1986; Fressola, Peter

Yohji Yamamoto's innovations with fabric, along with his mastery of shape and styling, made his fall 1986 collection a knockout. Yohji reaffirmed the strong trend in Paris toward knitwear as anything but a sweater.

In the collections of Gaultier, Kenzo, Cerruti and Girbaud, jersey or doubleknit fabrics have been featured in casual trousers and as a jeans alternative for the fashion customer.

What was so extraordinary about Yohji, however, was that for the first half of his show the mannequins were dressed head-to-toe in jersey or sweater knits. Sport jackets and their variations, long and short vests, trousers and tops were all offered in a melange of lightweight jersey, doubleknit, ribbed knit and jacquard-patterned sweater knit.

For example, a four-button, long-and-slim sport jacket in jacquard-patterned black knit might be worn with a bottle green long vest in the same patterned knit, with black ribbed knit slim trousers, and a V-inset button-up jersey turtleneck shirt. The jackets and vests were lined with a striped cotton interfacing that allowed these to be reversed.

Toward the middle of the show, Yohji introduced a group of doubleknit outfits in dark colors that looked like they were inspired by old William Morris prints from the turn of the century. These highly patterned jackets were often paired with dark argyle-patterned trousers.

Yohji's statment of tailored knits as the ultimate masculine sweater set was further reinforced by his stying treatment of jackets. Softly constructed, collarless and lapel-less knit jackets had the look of a soft, comfortable cardigan, but the woven linings held the jacket shape.

The return of 1960s as an inspiration for men's wear, which has swept Paris this season, was also visible at Yohji. Beatlesstyle crew-neck collar jackets and Edwardian cutaway frock coats were reminiscent of late 1960s London style.

Other highlights of Yohji's collection included a gray knit suit with oxford gray mini-cable shadow stripes, diamond motif knit cardigan vests and jackets that reversed to quilted linings in the same pattern, jersey trousers with a cable knit tuxedo stripe, a group of jacquard knitwear in China blue and white that took its inspiration from Oriental porcelain, origami-collared woven shirts and tunic jackets, which, like other portions of the collection, reaffirmed the move in Paris toward a long, lean, body-conscious silhouette.


Issey Miyake's collection was also strong in its use and interpretation of knit fabrics. There were numerous variations on the theme of cardigan jackets and entire knit outifts, such as one abstract, oversized, herringbone-patterned cardigan jacket worn with jacquared jersey trousers and a loose-fitting jersey sweatshirt. Striped knit cardigan jackets were also shown with notched-lapel, double-breasted vests. Miyake's cardigan jackets were offered a notched lapel, shawl collar and zip-front mock turtleneck, always with very baggy, fluid trouser models.

Unlike Yohji, however, Miyake's jersey trousers were dropped crotch and very baggy, which made them look slightly beachy. Like last season, Miyake showed his brightly colored striped oversized sweaters with block-checked knit slim pants. The knit look was also presented for evening with an olive-colored, crew collar cardigan jacket, which was worn with a black turtleneck sweater and celadon heavy nylon trousers. Also for evening, black or navy blue wool gabardine classic tuxedos were styled with an inset lapels that resembled those of a karate jacket.

Also of interest at Miyake was a cafe au lait-colored, serge wool suit that featured a long, slim jacket and slim trousers, and split mock turtleneck sweaters.


Comme des Garcons designer Rei Kawakubo can't seem to win for trying. Since most people associate her men's wear with the color black, when she introuces color, even bright color, people still see only black. The same applies to her styling, which people call severe when it is simple and too much when she tries to get tricky.

For next season, the audience seemed to prefer Kawakubo's classic men's wear to the fashion models. The classic gray or dusty brown-colored, pinstriped, soft suits and the classic topcoats may have been a repeat of past seasons, but Kawakubo's silhouette is still more advanced than most, and therefore, still acceptable. Even more important, retailers interviewed after the show said that they sell these classics very well.

Some of Kawakubo's combinations of garments, while not pushing any fashion message, were sophisticated in their shapes and colors. For instance, a black and white abstract checked sport coat was worn over a shorter-shaped, black sport coat, white T-shirt and black trousers. Another plaid sport coat in bordeaux was also worn over a shorter black sport coat, and a gray polo collar shirt and minichecked trousers.

While a double-breasted, peaked-lapel khaki jacket with elastic back treatment looked fresh with a white T-shirt and baggy blue trousers, the numerous jackets with four rows of elastic puckering were not at all. Equally unsuccessful were the outrageous plaid outfits.

The overall impression of this collection wasn't as strong as the last two, but Kawakubo is a designer with a consistent aesthetic. Most likely she will grow within that aesthetic and evolve to something else next season, continuing to move forward.

Daily News Record; 2/5/1985; Buckley, Richard


Yohji Yamamoto played the Grande Artisite in a collection that somehow suggested romantic notions of artists in studios and the Bohemian life associated with Europe at the end of the 19th century. Perhaps it was the pasted-on goatees and moustaches that started one's imagination working, for this was by no means a nostalgic or fancifully thematic collection. Rather, Yohji's designs looked positively modern, and while modernity usually implies spaceage technology and streamlined efficiency, Yohji's modern offerings were infused with a poetic spirit.

He opened his show with loose, satin striped wool jackets, worn with short, straight trousers, embroidered shirts, and polka dot or Swiss candy floral printed ties. Soft, felt-like flannel cardigan sport coats in chestnut brown were layered under Yohji's important draped-front reefer coat. This straight-lined, double-breasted top coat was cut with extra fabric between the buttons, which created a supple, ripple or draped effect.

Liner coats in plus wool flannel topped shawl collar red vests and short plants in the same fabric, and for a monotone look. Yohji showed a wool/cotton long-line double-breasted blazer, with buttons placed almost six-inches apart (similar to a style seen at Gaultier), matching trousers and shirts in the same color, with accented band piping on the placket or collar.

While colors were often drk and neutral, Yohji also offered bright grass green velvet jacks, shown with black wool trousers styled with a dropped, Dr. Denton-style back-buttoned rear. He also featured vinyl coats and jackets lined in flannel, which he accessorized with velvet scarves, white wool shirts and fluid rayon trousers.

But the spirit of the new/old artiste really came through in Yohji's knit suits, styled in long, two-thirds length cardigan jackets worn over lapelled knit vests and fluid knit pants. One was left the impression that a major change in masculine silhouette might indeed be in the making.


It goes without saying that Rei Kawakubo's highly thought-out and austere approach to men's fashion doesn't appeal to everyone, on the other hand, those who aren't threathened by her continued submersions into the dark underworld of fashion, or for those who can afford it, Kawakubo has built up a highly loyal and enthusiastic Comme des Garcons clientele, and her underground classics -- for that is what she designs -- exert a definite influence on the men's fashion scene.

Kawakubo said she was thinking about the working man when she designed this collection that combines the simplicity of functional work clothes with a more Bohemian aura. Loose baggy suits in the designer's workedover wool and winter cotton fabrics featured a short trousers silhouette, and were shown with two new signature Comme des Garcons items: the roll collar, clerical dress shirt, and the big buttoned pajama shirt.

There were plush wool liner coats, with Comme des Garcons Hommes Plus labels affixed to the front; short, cropped, above-the-knee topcoats; long, knit collared jackets and a full range of outerwear sport coats, often buttoned all the way up. There was more visable pattern interest in this collection, which featured railroad stripe brushed flannel; small dobby patterned wool for trousers; patterned shirtings; plaid knits for cardigan sport coats; shadow striped and jacquard wools; ribbon satin striped or window pane suitings, and large wool blanket plaids double-faced in wool.

Knitwear was more fully enphasized as well, with key items including flushy, Tyrolean cardigans with wide (approximately three-inches or more) conventional narrow accent edging; pullovers, tunics in crewneck or turtleneck models falling to just above the knee (worn with rolled up sport pants); double-cardigans, and some reversible knits.

The silhouette for jackets and coats was extremely diverse, with both long and short looks in two-, three-, four- and more button versions offered. The longer four-button coat/jackets in black satin striped wool struck many as looking Massidic, but in this as well as some other looks, Kawakubo seemed to reflect the growing stylistic interest in Eastern Europe that has begun to emerge this season.


This was the first season that Issey Miyake formally presented his men's wear in Paris, and what a delightful presentation it was. For Miyake isn't content to just show clothes. This seems to have little interest for him. He prefers to display clothes in motion, and in new visual and sensory contexts where his mastery of volume and texture can be actively demonstrated.

Employing the sensational Momix Dance Co, and a group of models who danced, mimed and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, Miyake showed his voluminous tent and trench coats in nylon with an inner vest attached, as well as in smooth-backed sheep leather, cotton/nylon with a detachable wool liner, and black artificial leather. It was difficult to identify the designer's favored jumpsuits, as they were layered under jersey shirt coats of belted and zippered sweater jackets.

Spongey styrofoam-like wool jersey and bonded jersey were styled in action-oriented tops and bottoms, utility vests or trainers, as Miyake calls them, and for other new knit look like they were painted, and ribbon-like knits in artificial leather and woven and wool.

Miyake also offered fluid, easy jackets, car coat blazers, tailored evening cardigans and an interesting longer Spencer-style jacket with a pointed V front in supple black wool, beefy houndstooth tweeds and a blanket-like lambswool/linen coats.
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