Comme des Garcons for H&M is basically a piss-take.
H&M and Comme des Garcons: a review
H&M and Comme des Garcons: a review
I can imagine the Comme des Garcons designer, Rei Kawakubo, sitting in her polka-dot walkpaper office in her polka-dot-chair, wearing her polka-dot-jacket backwards (when I wear a jacket backwards I feel like I’m wearing a poorly made but very fashionable straightjacket, but I have it from my Japanese Fashion Sources that Rei looks damn good wearing a jacket backwards); and positively cackling over the moderate-sized lines of people who lined up to buy Comme des Garcons branded H&M merchandise at the giant H&M stores.
She’s cackling because she’s just gotten away with selling H&M quality clothes at more than double the H&M price. In other words, she is making a killing. She’s slaughtering all the little fashion cows who’re rushing to grab their polka-dot shirt and normal-looking trench coat; one by one. She grabs each of these little beasts who’re trying very hard to ignore each other: ignoring each other is what most fashion people do. She grabs them and slits their throat by only looking at their eyes, as they happily hand over their money, and merrily skip home to where they blog about “OMG I JUST GOT COMME DES GARCONS!!!!!”.
I say this with great pain because I love Rei Kawakubo and I love her “fuck everyone!” attitude. This is the lady that gave us clothes that appear to have tumours growing out of them, and the lady that gave us upside down pockets. This is the lady that designs by telling her team what “Mood” she’s in and expects them to read her mind and make the clothes according to her “Mood”.
I mean, imagine that. She walks into the room, claps her hands and says “today….I am angry.”
And goddamit, her team’s gotta read her mind and translate this specific angry into clothes that…somebody might buy. Comme des Garcons is not only a fashion house; but a fashion house powered by psychic powers.
The clothes aren’t bad. There’s a men’s polka-dot shirt that resembles a 1960’s-era Bob Dylan shirt. It’s 50 dollars, US. The problem with the clothes is that they’re…the norm.
Martin Margiela pioneered distressed denim and exposed seams, but those are the norm now–what Margiela did doesn’t appear to be revolutionary in 2008. Nor does the H&M Comme des Garcons line. It’s all very nice; blacks and navies; polka dots and Victorian-looking coats and dresses. I’ll have to take people who were actually alive in 1980’s word for it that this sort of shtick was revolutionary then– but honestly, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at most of the pieces from this collection for H&M. Aside from what looks like a pyjama set belonging to the joker, nothing is out of the ordinary in the men’s collection. It’s just….nice. I’d love to think more of the women’s collection; but the more experimental pieces remind me of a timid and mousey librarian who might wear Yohji Yamamoto and the Balenciaga clothes that nobody can afford (if you can afford Balenciaga or Yohji, send me an email to the address above. Fashion writers need clothes, too, you know.), but because she’s so timid or mousey nobody notices….and she continues being unnoticed. Yes: the clothes are not totally the norm here but they might as well be. They’re mostly in black, and there’s a few cuts here and there- a few polka dots here and there. Imagine your normal clothes in black, and a silver butter knife cutting into them. The silver knife doesn’t shred the clothes, or make the edges uneven like fabric silhouetted mountain peaks. No, the silver knife is simply digging into the clothes like it would into vanilla icecream. Even the deconstruction is timid:
Imagine an accountant of the old school; dressed in a pinstripe suit and gold half-moon glasses; hunched over an old wooden desk. There’s no computer in sight, only the dim light of his lamp. There’s a t-shirt on his desk, instead of the usual papers. He gets his golden scissors, and places the long top tooth of the scissors upon the t-shirt, and hesitantly cuts. The cut he makes into the t-shirt is as long as the width of your little finger. That’s how timid the deconstruction in this collection is.
This, from the lady who gave us hands appliquéd onto a top. And tumour-like things appear from dresses. It’s like there’s two Comme des Garcons: the unashamedly label-whore side of it; with the “PLAY” line (imagine plain t-shirts with a logo on them. That’s the “PLAY” line.) and the other bland merchandise that one can find alongside the second Comme des Garcons: the pieces produced with Kawakubo’s “fuck everyone!” attitude. Maybe it’s a joke; to see who buys the bland merchandise. Maybe, Rei Kawakubo has developed Comme des Garcons in such a sophisticated way that half what she creates is indeed a piss-take.
The clothes, however mediocre; have sold out. All hail Rei Kawakubo. And I do mean that sincerely. Anyone who can convince people to buy a normal piece of clothing for double the normal H&M price is some sort of genius.