Defining key pink moments in Comme des Garçons history
This season, AnOther, with the help of Mia Wasikowska, Rei Kawakubo and Comme des Garçons are celebrating pink. The actress stars on the cover of the latest issue and in a 12-page story wearing the new collection, which is almost entirely pink, save for a few flashes of black. Pink tights, pink ruffles and and a pink patterned teddy bear.
“Kawakubo changed the way we think about pink”
It’s really interesting to think about pink and Comme des Garçons womenswear. The name translates as “for the boys” yet pink – as we discover through the course of this article is a key colour for the label – is typically girly. “In the 80s, [Rei Kawakubo] changed the way that people looked at black. People wear black – all the different shades of it – because of Rei,” Edward Enniful told AnOther Magazine in S/S10. Indeed Kawakubo also changed the way we think about pink.
Here, on arguably the pinkest day of the year (V Day) we present our favourite pink moments in Comme history. A CDG history lesson if you like, starting with that aforementioned Mia Moment.
Early Shades of Pink
Pink and Comme des Garçons have a funny relationship, really. If you ask someone to name key colours which relate to Comme des Garçons, they would most likely cite black and white, possibly navy. Since the label’s debut, Kawakubo has stayed loyal to the colour black. Premiered during a period of colour and buoyancy, her first collection was dubbed ‘Hiroshima Chic’ for its black colour palette and distressed finishes. Her followers in Japan quickly garnered the nickname ‘Black crows’. “Swathing yourself in those black folds felt super chic, super uncompromising, super radical and super feminist – like waving a very elegant two-fingered salute at the establishment,” Alice Rawsthorn told AnOther Magazine in S/S10.
“I’ve always felt comfortable with the colour black. I don’t know why. But my feeling for black is stronger than ever these last ten years,” Kawakubo once said.
Yet on closer inspection, pink is a vital part of the Comme DNA, an almost continuous thread through the entire archive. An early pink example is a young Naomi Campbell in a sheer organza powder pink blouse in the label’s Six magazine.
Pink ‘bumps’ first appeared in A/W96 (baby pink skirts with net bustles), and, like a lot of Kawakubo ideas, continued into the next season for what would become the label’s most well-known collection. ‘Lumps and Bumps’ has Quasimodo-like lumps in gingham fabrics. A decade later, pink bumps made a return in a standout A/W07 collection featuring Surrealist padded hands, bows, balls and flowers with Minnie Mouse and bunny ears. The colours were childlike (pink and lilac) yet the fabrics were grown up (synthetic, stretchy and sexy) – a typical Comme juxtaposition of good and bad. “I’m tired of mundane, everyday fashion,” the designer said. “I am curious. I want something that takes us to another world.”
If we are to talk about pink silhouettes, the season to focus on would be A/W12 when all the models looked like flatpack dollies, with blunt, bright bobs. The colours were like a child’s paint palette - pink, red, blue and yellow. The silhouettes were oversized and toile-like, with raw edges.
Pink is often thought of as pretty. Lace is pretty, as are frills. But in Kawakubo’s pink never feels too sickly sweet. There were plenty of frills in the A/W08 collection which featured interpretations of trashy fifties net petticoats, dance dresses and underwear as outerwear. “There’s value in bad taste, too. This is Comme des Garçons bad taste,” Kawakubo remarked post show.
Hair, Eyes and Lips
The hair and make-up in Comme des Garçons shows, created by Julian D’Ys, is always an provocative element to consider. There have been a number of shows when, under Kawakubo’s direction, D’Ys has created pink hair looks for the girls. For A/W09, khaki looks were accompanied by pink rolls of hair shrouded in net; and for S/S10, the hair was sprayed and safety pinned to look like punk candy floss. Thick strips of pink eyeshadow were also used on pale model faces for the A/W07 show. In true CDG abstractness, the pink lips have also featured in the clothing design; A/W08 saw lip shaped holes appearing on coats, with ribbon edging.
Pink in Campaigns
Pink has been the chosen colour for a number of Comme des Garcons campaigns, one created by Marc Atlan for PARFUMS and the other for SHIRT, a collection of pink shredded strips of paper by Norbert Schoerner. Like all Comme adverts, they are unconventional and arresting.
For the Boys
Of course, pink isn’t just for the girls, especially under Kawkubo’s watch. Pink has featured in a number of her men’s collections, most notably, S/S12 (which featured shorts and skirts) and pink florals for A/W12 and S/S14. The bunny ears got an outing for the boys with a collection of pink seperates in A/W13. Off the runway in March 2012, Marc Jacobs famously wore a Comme des Garçons a bubblegum pink T-shirt dress to the opening of his Louis Vuitton-Marc Jacobs exhibition at Les Arts Décoratifs.
Text by Laura Bradley