he difference between clothing and costume is a matter of degrees. We can say that actors in a movie wear costumes, but what if that movie is set in the present day? Their costumes will be identical to normal clothes. What distinguishes costumes from clothes? Comme des Garçons tends to straddle this line in their runway shows. The Tokyo fashion label began as a costuming company, and under the long guidance of lead designer Rei Kawakubo they continue their customary flirting with the theatrical. For Spring and Summer of 2012, Comme des Garçons offers us a slightly fantastical take on warm weather garb.
The collection pays more attention to Spring than most, particularly the tendency for rain that comes in March and April. Outerwear, lightly lined, is worn to keep out the rain, with double-breasted trench coats and jackets glossy with waterproofing. Raincoats of every style and cut appear, and in almost every color. There is a particular emphasis on pink: it shows up throughout the collection, giving brightness and levity to a wardrobe eager to escape Winter's dour colors. Kawakubo-san takes more than a little inspiration from the colors of the world: the pink and red of new flowers, the gray of rainy days, the white of the wispy clouds and the white sand on the beach. Even the black that appears is lightened by the texture of the fabric employed. There are trench coats and sport jackets made of denim with a rough weave that brightens the otherwise somber shade.
Kawakubo-san cannot resist the urge for theatrics, and this collection toys with accepted apparel in more ways than one. There are many instances of short-sleeve outerwear, adding whimsy to an otherwise practical piece. Short pants also appear, and they are often paired with sport coats and rain coats to create a schoolboy aesthetic. Some of the models wear strange hats that resemble royal crowns on their heads; other hats through the collection are floppy, rounded, or tall. There is even a dove gray cutaway coat with high-cropped pants, a playful reinterpretation of old morning dress.
What the Comme des Garçons man recognizes is that the difference between clothing and costume is a matter of intention. Clothes are sometimes put on with no thought to the resulting aesthetic. By contrast, a costume in theater or film is always meant to convey a message. It says something about the character that wears it. This collection encourages us to dress ourselves as a costumer would, with a wardrobe that reveals our essential nature.