To view the full Noir Kei Ninomiya Fall 2018 collection, click here.
Noir Kei Ninomiya just threw his first “proper” fashion show, and it was paradoxical. Like the shows of his mentor Rei Kawakubo, for whom he worked as a pattern cutter before striking out on his own, the event was both intimate and explosive. The swarm of street style photographers at more overblown affairs were nowhere to be seen, just a lone (and appropriately named) Garçon Jon, wearing a Texas tuxedo and snapping the select group of eclectically dressed attendees as they arrived. “Three days more of this and then back home to work on my book,” he said. Hopefully some of these shots make the cut—so many women in Comme des Garçons’ Spring 2018 collection—Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s surreal fruit and vegetable faces were everywhere, as was the outsized blonde, blue-eyed anime character surrounded by cherries and their tree’s blossoms. Kawakubo gave us an abundance of color last season, but this season her protégé Ninomiya gave us almost none. Of course, adding the word “Noir” to your name, and what else would one really expect, but he has used color less economically in season’s past. Not this time, though.
There were very few seats along the runway, which traversed the length of a small hall in the Faculté de Pharmacie de Paris, but benches lined the wall and were utilized as platforms by eager fashions keen to get the best Instagram angle. Panels painted in 1888 by French artist Albert Besnard, who was commissioned to decorate the space, were positioned on the walls above the benches, and puffy, probably Comme coats rubbed up against them. From that distance, the collection was black. There was some bold inclusion of color—floral masks created by Japanese flower artist Makoto Azuma were deep purple, pink, red, and green, obscuring some models’ heads entirely, but the clothes appeared to be solely that obsidian, raven shade. On closer inspection post-show though, tiny, cobalt blue roses were stitched into things—a delicate contrast to the edge of black faux leather. With his Moncler collaboration recently unveiled in Milan—to critical acclaim—this lineup makes sense. What he did there with technical black nylon, he’s done here in tulle and organza. His folding, scrunching, and bunching technique always lends itself to extra-conceptual looks, but this collection was certainly his most maximalist so far. Faux leather biker jackets and slim skirts were as understated as it got, and then Ninomiya’s final strophe—seven looks accompanied by a soundtrack of soul-shaking bass, each model masked completely in blooms, and then from the neck down, dizzying bustles of bunched up and rumpled blackness, sometimes shimmering like a galactic swirl of cosmic matter, and sometimes more matte, like the model-smothering rose-like shapes that made up Ninomiya’s final look. It was an aposiopetic end. The music stopped abruptly and in that instant, the lights went up and save for the set up, it was as if it never happened. He didn’t appear from backstage to take a bow. The room returned from an immersive journey past organza event horizons, and snapped back to reality in an instant like a rude awakening from a beautifully twisted black dream.