Scarf Wearing Gets Directional: Comme des Garcons x Hermes

15 February 2013

Catch up on the musings of Grazia's Fashion Director Susannah Frankel in her blog, Fashion Victim

There’s nothing like a great collaboration to incite maximum excitement. And it’s hard to imagine any more inspired link-up than that between the mother of all luxury goods names, Hermes, and the mother of invention, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons.  And so, this week sees the launch of the Comme des Carres silk scarf: the latter lends her personal vision to probably the most haute square of silk in the world to suitably spectacular effect.

Of course these are, at surface level at least, two different worlds. Hermes, perhaps France’s oldest and grandest status label, prides itself on hand-craftsmanship, the most precious materials (from leathers to silks) and a certain countrified elegance. The purposefulunderstatement of pretty much everything it lends its name to (how chic it is to be purposefully understated in this day and age?) is paying dividends. Yesterday, the company posted profits of 22.5 per cent to 3.48 billion euros in the last quarter of 2012 as compared to LVMH’s rise of 12 per cent and Burberry’s of 11.3 per cent. The makers of the Kelly and Birkin bag rest safe in the knowledge that, despite a price point that is far from modest, supply still outstrips demand. There’s a waiting list a mile long for both of these infinitely covetable and inimitable designs and never enough fine skins in the world to keep up with it.

And what of Comme des Garcons? There is an industrial quality to the design process in this instance. The materials CdG favours are more likely to be proudly acrylic than super-luxe – they are often deliberately not sourced from the natural world. Countrified elegance, meanwhile, has rarely been on the agenda. And that brings us neatly to the purposefully understated part. While Comme des Garcons is not a label necessarily aimed at the shy, it is true that only the initiated are likely to recognize its more timeless designs. There is a sense too – always – of swimming against the tide and a resistance to anything that appears conventionally expensive that means that the notion of status is subverted entirely. It is now more than thirty years since fashion deity Kawakubo brought her dark and distressed aesthetic to Europe and she is still considered to be the most influential name under the sun by just about any fashion luminary worth their credentials.

Both Hermes and Comme represent exclusivity and power, then, albeit it in disparate and ways, and that makes the Comme des Carres scarf a rarefied beast indeed. There’s a black and white collection, only available at the Comme des Garcons stores in Tokyo, New York and Paris and a colour collection that goes into Dover Street Market stores, including London, this week. Think a bright, cheeky and beautiful mix of gingham (Kawakubo’s favourite check), rectangles and stripes. Scarf wearing has rarely been so directional.


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