“You wouldn’t normally associate Comme des Garçons with chic chignons—let alone the sound of Sinatra crooning “let’s face the music and dance.” But those were the classic elements in the background of a show that designer Rei Kawakubo described as “free knitting.” Almost completely black, save for a couple of things in gray and a tint of blue, the collection was partly about Kawakubo revisiting her own past. Mostly, though, it was an intense research project into what can be done with different varieties of wool, knitting needles and an unconventional vision.
Kawakubo began by wrapping twisted cardigan-coats around the body so that pockets were displaced at odd angles and tan-yellow buttons spiraled the torso. The color blackout, and the consistent styling device of leggings-with-everything, gave Kawakubo artistic license to go crazy, experimenting with a vast range of shapes and stitches. Knit sweatshirting, bouclé and the season’s loopy textured sweaters all turned up in a beautifully elegant, off-kilter way.
It was a long show. A lull could be felt, giving the audience time to ponder the poignant significance of Old Blue Eyes’ lyrics (“there may be teardrops ahead”), but it was followed by a flurry of scribbling when a twisted, tufty raven’s wing-colored fake fur coat and a leather-fronted double-breasted cardigan swung by. Life may be hard—but who cares when the fashion adrenaline’s running high?”
In 1992 Jurgi Persoons graduates from the fashion department at the Antwerp Academy and three years later he starts hiw own women’s collection. From 1999 he shows his collection in Paris in the form of static presentations, quite similar to performance. His oeuvre can be describes as a radical and even trashy interpretation of the classical female wardrobe. In 2003 he stops his own collection and leaves the world of fashion.
Hettie Judah: Grognard and Stoops’ response is not only to leave things revealed, but also to emphasise the fragility of beauty by playing with ugly, through those monstrous masks and through experiments that emphasise the mortality of human flesh; legs and bodies bound with scotch tape or elastic bands. Much as both their commercial and personal work celebrates the beauty and spirit of youth, there is also a suggestion of death and decay, visible not only in their habitually dark collaborations with designer Jurgi Persoons.