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Comme des Garçons A/W15
Comme des Garçons A/W15Photography by Sam Rock

Comme des Garçons' Ceremony of Separation

Susannah Frankel reflects on Rei Kawakubo's emotional offering, with collection details by Sam Rock

Lead ImageComme des Garçons A/W15Photography by Sam Rock

Open displays of emotion are a rarity on the runway. Comme des Garçons is not like other fashion houses, however, and the power of the show this season was nothing if not testimony to that. On a narrow runway this great designer expressed, she stated, the "ceremony of separation" and moved many in even this privileged audience that has come to expect grand statements from her to tears.

The colour palette was restricted to black, white and gold. Black – a shade that is hugely significant here; the designer reinvented it in the Eighties and, of course, it is also associated with mourning and widows’ weeds. White is for wedding and christening dress but also, in the Eastern world, represents an expression of loss. Gold, meanwhile, according to Kawakubo, is the colour that is best employed to see off the departed, precious gold with its connotations of religion, heraldry and wealth. The sarcophagi of the Egyptian pharaohs spring to mind.

Fabrication seemed equally significant – and no less evocative. Lace – again tied to many of life’s most significant moments from birth, to marriage and finally death – was the most prominent, painstakingly sourced, a spokesperson for the company later said, all over the world. It was crafted into the most monumental shapes – narrow shrouds bound with ruffles and bows, overblown cocoons, patch-worked or tied into bundles and engulfing models’ frames entirely and even tombs, golden tombs from where only their tiny faces peeped out.

Gesture has been important throughout this season. Rei Kawakubo took that to a different level, however. In these huge pieces, often in contrasting shades, girls met for a moment and gazed at one another. The living accepting the finality of death and leaving their loved ones to go on their way.

That such sentiment can be expressed through fashion is just another reason why Rei Kawakubo is the most respected and revered fashion designer in the world. This was an immensely brave and beautiful proposition and its poignancy will remain long after the season closes.