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Don’t Just Get Dressed, Get Mad

“I have anger against everything in the world, especially against myself.”

Such was the explanation by Rei Kawakubo for a Comme des Garçons collection that was an explosion of chaotic femininity — bows and bustles and puffs and flounces — all in black, scarified by prints of barbed wire and chains, legs bound by ribbons. Like the emotion, however, the clothes were (in the spectrum of Comme des Garçons) strikingly recognizable: a pair of pants here, a dress there. It was impossible not to look at them and think: Yeah, I see you.

The models stamped their feet at the photographers and clenched their fists; occasionally body-checked one another, or paused to turn and face down the front row, looming over the seated guests like a dare. They might have been trapped in the flirty, fussy tropes of girlhood, but in Ms. Kawakubo’s hands, such clichés become blunt-force weapons. Sometimes, you just have to dress your inner child like she wants to get out and rampage. Against injustice, war, all the -isms, attempts to keep anyone in their box. Whatever makes your blood boil.

It’s no longer an apolitical season — and not just because, Anna Wintour of Vogue was due to co-host a fund-raiser in Paris for President Biden.

Comme des Garçons, fall 2024Credit…Yannis Vlamos
Comme des GarçonsCredit…Yannis Vlamos

There’s been a lot of moaning over a spate of appointments of male designers at major houses, but by the penultimate day of fashion month, a powerful chorus of female voices was taking shape. Talking about “being a woman designer making clothes for women,” as both Marine Serre and Stella McCartney said. Making points, and scoring them, in all sorts of ways. That France just became the first country in the world to enshrine a right to abortion in its Constitution was a coincidence, but a fitting one.

At Hermès, Nadège Vanhee poured rain down onto the middle of her runway as an army of sharp-edged luxury biker chicks, leather babes from the tips of their (st)riding boots to their leather jeans, pencil skirts and bomber jackets marched by. It might be grim out there, but not a drop did touch them.

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