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“More…happy?” offered an illustrious colleague backstage immediately after this Comme des Garçons show. His thesis was understandable: Some of the 11 chapters in this presentation seemed positively energized by color and form. But Rei Kawakubo wasted few words in disambiguating: “Not happy!” She added (via translation from her husband, Adrian Joffe): “I wanted to return to the source. Nothing…I wanted to use fabrics that existed without thinking about making proper patterns, just basic patterns, free.” Joffe continued: “She thinks it is really good for the world if we go back to our original source and start again. To try not to fuck it up again. Basically that’s the feeling.”

“Why was it important for you to do that?” Kawakubo was asked. After some dialogue considering her question, Joffe transmitted: “She thinks by going back to the beginning she might find something new.”

And is it possible to go back to the beginning? “Yes,” replied the designer, flatly. “It’s the only thing to do.” At this point, a colleague sought clarification. “In terms of the beginning, was it the way you worked originally?” “No,” Joffe replied, without consultation. “It’s the beginning of the world. Not her beginning.”

“The Big Bang?” (This was me.) “Exactly.” (Gratifying, at the end.)

This Comme des Garçons show was split into the aforementioned 11 sections, all group mise-en-scènes soundtracked by different pieces of music curated by Dover Street Market’s Calx Vive. The floor of the American Cathedral was stuck with different colored threads—like orbits in a solar system—which each group of musically accompanied models slowly, and sometimes less so, followed. Here is the rundown.

Group 1. Music: “Love in a Void” by Siouxsie and the Banshees. “Too many critics, too few writing,” sang Siouxsie. Steady love: These opening looks were boxy, elemental tailoring—exploded—with intensely wrought Pierrot hats over florally garlanded but lumpy gowns. Takeoff.

Group 2. Music: “Friendly Galaxy No. 2” by Sun Ra & His Astro-Intergalactic Infinity Arkestra. Following the blue thread, circuitously, these looks were charcoal patches of wool resting upon frothing white tulle. Elemental.

Group 3. Music: “A New Theory of Eclipse” by Laura Cannell. Joy. Explosion. The Big Bang. Bow-edged silks, deep, topped by twisted pipe-cleaner hats. A beginning of sentience from the sludge of the lack of it.

Group 4. Music: “Tell Us Where” by Joey Anderson. It’s probably the half-Englishman in me, but this was the first of two judgmental, looming phases. The wigs, the black, the bulk. Original sin.

Group 5. Music: “Nouvelles Suites de Pièces de Clavecin / Suite in G Major: Gavotte Avec 6 Doubles” by Trevor Pinnock. This was a baroque and crazy counterpoint—a countercultural release. Inverted canvasing spored beyond the boundaries of bloomingly distended black jackets. Inversion.

Group 6. Music: “Exit to Humanity” by Ellen Allien. Ooh. Also monochrome, but wider and more defined, these looks were a coalescence of the loose molecular float of before. Swiss-cheese holes.

Group 7. Music: “Je te Veux” by Jessye Norman and Dalton Baldwin. Looks 15 and 16—this was a waypoint—were about putting the fluffy guts of the clothing on its exterior, not unlike Norman Foster’s Centre Pompidou. Accents of pink and magenta transmitted that deluded sense of happiness.

Group 8. Music: “Flying Home No. 1” by Lionel Hampton. “Two huge fur skirts and jackets,” I noted. “How great it would be if they were dancing.” Where the Wild Things Are.

Group 9. Music: “Vitamin C” (2004 Remaster) by Can. We drifted into The Handmaid’s Tale territory here—red lumpen dresses, white cowls—in a “not happy” section that telegraphed Paradise Lost.

Group 10. Music: “Abisme” by Shida Shahabi. Two more high-court judges, double shot in the first look, and rendered de-authorized by the deconstruction of their gowns. They made stately progress.

Group 11. Music: “Bad Things” by L7. Of all the songs in this review, add this one to your playlist. And the same band’s “Pretend We’re Dead” too. This final triptych of dresses with external girders—modernity, skyscrapers, all that—delivered a final touch of gravity to Kawakubo’s cosmic prehuman fashion clay.

Abstract fashion. Make what you want of it. Get it or don’t. But tonight Kawakubo presented us with a playlist of potential, before The Fall. If only we could rewind.