PARIS, France — TMI. Could you ever imagine that such a trite distillation of the contemporary glut of useless information would provide the cornerstone for a Comme des Garçons collection? “Naked King” was Rei Kawakubo’s key phrase for Spring 2017, tapping the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale about the delusional ruler who paraded naked through town in the mistaken conviction that his new clothes were invisible only to the ignorant. His subjects, not wishing to appear stupid, went along with the illusion until one small child pointed out he was wearing nothing. Out of the mouths of babes…
Does Kawakubo see herself as that truthteller, exposing the mass illusions with which fashion sustains itself? It’s not likely she’d even consider such a question remotely relevant. Still, there was a definite revelatory subtext in her procession of see-through clothes. Nowhere to hide in her plastic parade. TMI indeed.
And yet, with kings in mind, there was also a perverse splendour to what she showed. The latex cape and sleeveless greatcoat, the crosshatched vinyl webbing that encased Kawakubo’s models, the plastic cloak hand-painted with the words The King is Naked, the hair teased into crowns by Julien d’Ys… it was all scaled to impress the King’s hoi-polloi. And inside it all was a passage of clothing serially printed with enigmatic images from the archives of the Italian design house Fornasetti.
I say “splendour,” but, at the same time, this collection couldn’t help but emphasise the ineffectuality of the man who would don such garb. Miuccia Prada is on this very page at the moment. We are ruled by fools, like the king whose overweening sense of self made him a ludicrous figure of fun. The information flow is such that these morons have nowhere to hide. Can it ever be too much? As long as it steers us to wisdom, no.