Tao Tokyo Fall 2024

Of all the main characters in the Comme des Garçons clan, Tao Kurihara is the name we hear the least. Her label, Tao, shuttered in 2011—she stopped showing in Paris, and instead was set to work on the Comme des Garçons Tricot line. Then, in 2021, with nothing more than a whisper, Tricot was rebranded into Tao, and the designer’s eponymous label was revived. For the past few seasons now, Tao has been holding off-schedule shows in Tokyo and presenting her bric-a-brac finery to a small private audience in a windowless room on the seventh floor of CDG’s Aoyama headquarters. How deliciously mysterious. And how very Comme.

This latest outing—held early on a Wednesday morning—unfolded as a parade of white, broken up with an inky splash of black in the middle. The non-color palette served to show off Kurihara’s mastery for texture, which is invariably a feast for the eyes. Ivory cottons and cream lace were folded like paper, ruched daintily at the shoulders and waist, or scrunched into crumpled corsages that swirled around the body. Broderie anglaise dotted girlish tops, along with white argyle, floral lace, and quilting that rippled across skirts and trapeze coats, while pom-poms bobbed up and down on the toes of sneakers.

The cutesy and overtly feminine framework that Tao operates within—or “the coquette aesthetic” as it has now been categorized online—has been one of the most notable trends in womenswear lately. But Tao’s take on it feels different; she wields her bows and whistles in such a way that the effect is of protection, rather than decoration.

sIn contrast with Rei Kawakubo, who this season called her collection Anger, Tao named hers Happiness. Very different emotions, but Tao clearly takes after the CDG matriarch with her knack for lofty concept clothes that, to the right people, will be perfectly saleable. Shortly after the show ended, Tao herself appeared on the floor below, dragging along a half-dressed mannequin to ready it for the showroom. Stopping briefly, she said that the message behind the collection was simple. “We all need some more happiness.” And then, back to work.

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