A Comme Disciple Wows with Wigs and Reinvents Black
Noir Kei Ninomiya is dense with technique, and rewards close viewing. (Also, those wigs!)
There’s other stuff happening at Paris Fashion Week too, you know! Saturday morning, Kei Ninomiya, the quietly mohawked impresario who started as a patternmaker for Comme des Garçons, showed his second runway show for Noir Kei Ninomiya.
You know that ongoing joke in fashion about how black is the new black? Ninomiya religiously believes it, and man, his clothing will make you believe in the bounty of his God. He makes everything in black, but he shows how a creative limitation can be the righteous path to outrageous creativity. His clothing is dense with technique, and to see it even from afar is to understand the absolute joy someone can take in the process of making clothing, and how much possibility lies ahead in the technique of fashion.
For this collection, Ninomiya said backstage, he wanted to contrast inexpensive fabrics with expensive ones. He layered PVC over Georgette silk, and bursts of tulle over jersey, creating bulbous apparition-shaped capes and squidgy harlequin patterns. He showed an empire-waist cage of beads, if you can imagine that, over a regular old men’s shirt and tie. He joined fabrics with not merely a needle and thread but tape and complex pleating techniques. His last handful of looks were huge bushes of feather-like metallic tulle, including several pieces made of a chain-like mesh, a fabric that is so delicate that it can’t be sewn. Instead, Ninomiya explained, he shaped the material into a dress by braiding a black cord through the open squares. You almost ache looking at the pieces up close.
Last season, Ninomiya’s first proper runway show, he drew much excitement for his collaboration with floral artist Azuma Makoto, who created masks of floral bouquets. This season, he tasked Makoto with making huge white wigs that bounced light as a feather. (Hairstylist Takayuki Nukui made some of the smaller wigs for the show, as well.) The wigs were sown with cottonwood seeds (another humble material!) that puffed off the wigs as the models walked, like in those first big bursts of April, when seed pods are flying madly through the air hoping to land in the soil and form new trees. Talk about being inspired by spring! This is the kind of clothing that makes going to a fashion show, or into a store rather than simply visiting a website, worth it: it encourages you to examine clothing and delight in its sheer construction. The question of wearing it becomes the next exciting adventure.
As Ninomiya encouraged us to touch each of the fabrics with our fingers, one journalist asked, “Why do you do this? Why do you make things so hard for yourself?” Ninomiya looked almost puzzled. Then he said, “Because I must make new things.”