December 12 2011
Lucia van der Post
Rei Kawakubo, the designer behind Comme des Garçons and many a fashion insider’s favourite designer of all time, really made her name with monochrome palettes, with her love of black (she could, say the cognoscenti, distinguish between 60 different shades of her favourite colour), with what came to be called the “Japanese bag lady” look.
And yet here she is, in the middle of one of the worst economic downturns anybody alive can remember, with her native country having been badly battered by earthquakes and tsunamis in the preceding months, coming up with something entirely different, some of the most joyous, uplifting garments currently in the shops. Just to gaze upon them is to feel that the world is a better place.
She calls the collection Love Is Tender, and the thinking behind it (Kawakubo fans will know that where there is Commes des Garçons clothing, you will find a “concept”) is that these capture the sort of spirit to be found in the garments that a mother would make for her children. They have a homely, handmade air, featuring the sort of colours you’d find in leftover wools. There are crochet jumpers, brightly-coloured striped ones, scarves, gloves and beanies knitted in what seem like homely, random, vintage patterns. All the sweaters are £414 each. The gloves and beanies (£44 each) have been made from scraps of vintage knitting, so each one is different.