From black panther to woman, teenage boy to convertible, polar bear to Inuit, small house to turret castle, piano to stove, to drawer, to highchair, the hybrid beings in Oliver Laric’s video work Untitled (2014) mutate and flow from one state of being into another at an eye-blinking pace. During metamorphosis, each subject’s expression is, for the most part, absent or apathetic, as if to illustrate the normality of such a process. The video’s decidedly kinetic format is an approach undertaken by few fashion designers, including Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garcçons, Rick Owens and Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, whose collections challenge the constitution of the contemporary body, ultimately shedding light on both its existing and potential fluidity. All three designers intersect at a point where style and silhouettes are exaggerated to extremes in order to emphasise a point. Clockwise from top: Rick Owens Menswear, Autumn/Winter 2019, Comme des Garçons Autumn/Winter 2019 and Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY Autumn/Winter 2019.
This season at Comme des Garçons, garments included bulbous shoulders and trousers made out of thick, black rubber, constructed in response to the world’s malign forces. These sartorial armours recall the exoskeletons of animals such as the armadillo or a snail, whose natural shell provide protection and support. As a believer in the power of clothing to transform, each “armour” gives its wearer the opportunity to shapeshift beyond their present constitution, taking on the protective qualities found in the anatomy of other beings, in turn feeling sufficiently armoured to conquer the world. Rick Owens Autumn/Winter 2019 collection marked an ode to the subversive glamour and the legacy of Larry LeGaspi, presenting platform boots, strong shoulders and Owens signature elongated silhouettes, which signify the designer continued effort to question: why confine ourselves to the limit of our own bodies? As Owens once proclaimed: “I want to extend beyond the boundaries of what you’re supposed to be wearing; a lot of time, my clothes have things that are extended or things that are dragging. I think there is a subtle message in this practice: why keep yourself within the same limits of the clothes that everyone else does? You can go further.”
Meanwhile, at Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, the designer continued his championing of queerness and the plurality of identities, demonstrating through each look the potential to consistently build, unravel and rebuild one’s gender and identity through clothing. Together, all three designers resist a static understanding of identity, the body’s given form and its depiction in mainstream culture, and rather than having their designs adhere to the confines of the human body, the body represents yet another form of fabric to toy with.
Discover the full collection by Comme des Garçons, Rick Owens and Charles Jeffrey Loverboy in stores.