Fall 2018 Ready-to-Wear
March 3, 2018
It’s rare that a leader in any artistic discipline—particularly fashion—would describe his or her work as “camp.” The term is associated with things that are silly, unserious, woefully exaggerated, tacky, ostentatious to the point of hilarity, naively ironic, and the like. But then, Rei Kawakubo is not your average fashion designer. CDG CAMP was the name of her Fall 2018 outing. In a surprisingly extensive explanation (for Kawakubo, anyway, who generally just offers a word), the designer noted, “Susan Sontag wrote about a creative movement and sensibility, CAMP. I can really identify with this vision. Camp is not something horribly exaggerated, out of the ordinary, unserious, or in bad taste. This collection came out of the feeling that, on the contrary, camp is really and truly something deep and new and represents a value we need. For example, there are many so-called styles such as punk that have lost their original rebel spirit today. I think camp can express something deeper and can give birth to progress.”
Judging by her Fall lineup, the “something deeper” she referenced seems to be pure, unadulterated joy. This was easily the most joyous Comme des Garçons collection in recent memory—maybe ever—and it’s interesting that it comes at a time when so many other designers are essentially making clothes for the end of the world. And what better way to express camp and joy than by channeling the circus? Wearing layers and layers candy-colored tulle, lace, and ruffles; big clown-like lavender bloomers; sequins and floral prints galore; gilded foil; and holographic hair, models marched against a red velvet backdrop to Laurent Petitgrand’s “Circus Music.” The pastel and neon confections inspired a childlike wonder in showgoers, and for the finale, the models walked out onto narrow white platform three by three, hand in hand. Yes, it was cute and campy (not unlike the destroyed, multi-hued Betty Boop sweater—can you get any more camp than Betty?) and it was also fantastic. It was such fun. It was delightful—it was also a little bit uncanny, but that could have just been the circus music. Most importantly, it spread so much happiness. Editors who saw each other later in the day would inevitable shriek, “Oh my god, did you see Comme?!” In short, it was the greatest show on earth—or at least on day five of Paris fashion week.