The future female silhouette?

In recent years, Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo has offered some of the most thought-provoking commentary on the nature of dress, people's definition of beauty and the autonomy of the female body.

Her autumn Comme des Garcons 2017 collection, on show during Paris Fashion Week last Saturday, took on all those questions.

The lead model to appear on the catwalk was dressed in white. It was not exactly a dress. It was more like a shell or a Fernando Botero sculpture or a Michelin woman or an abstract interpretation of the female form - bloated, twisted and armless.

The garments on show looked as if they were stitched from old upholstery, thick rug pads, grimy insulation and even industrial foil.

As The Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan wrote in her review, "Kawakubo's meagre notes on her inspiration - the future of silhouette - suggested that maybe these garments, these wearable sculptures were predictive of a next-generation filled with distorting obesity".


"Or maybe we can look forward to a future that does not use the hourglass, Barbie-doll figure as the standard. Maybe big will be inarguably beautiful."

Givhan continued: "In the pieces that Kawakubo showed, the models' arms were often encased within the garment. On their own, they couldn't escape these confining silhouettes, just as we can't escape our own body. We have to get comfortable with ourselves."

In May, a retrospective on Kawakubo's work will take place at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The 74-year-old founder of Comme des Garcons is only the second living designer after Yves Saint Laurent in 1983 to have a solo show at the museum.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2017, with the headline 'The future female silhouette?'. Print Edition | Subscribe