As far as chalk-and-cheese pairings go in the universe of fashion and jewellery, Mikimoto and Comme des Garçons would rank up there as one of the most unlikely match-ups.
The former — renowned in the fine jewellery industry as the progenitor of the world’s first cultured pearls when brand founder Kokichi Mikimoto pioneered the methodology in 1893 — is the epitome of elegance. Counted among its creations is the Phoenix Mikimoto Crown worn by the 68th Miss Universe, Catriona Gray, as well as a royal commission that saw the company design and procure a parure consisting of a brooch, necklace, earrings, bracelet and a state diadem for Princess Kako of the Japanese Imperial Family.
On the other hand, the latter had its roots in what French fashion critics had deemed “anti-fashion” during its Parisian debut in the early ‘80s. Comme des Garçons made a splash by showcasing an austere, punkish look with a heavy emphasis on distressed black fabrics and unfinished seams. In other words, what we hail as street style today.
Mikimoto x Comme des Garçons collection
But even prior to her brainchild going mainstream, designer and founder Rei Kawakubo had always eschewed the established notions of beauty by pushing the boundaries of what womenswear could be — a firm belief built into the name of the brand itself, as Comme des Garçons translates to mean “like boys” in French. Now in a move only the most visionary of creative directors could imagine, Kawakubo has seen fit to meld her avant-garde aesthetic with Mikimoto’s timelessness, working with the jewellery house to adorn men in pearls, resulting in a collaborative effort that once again seeks to subvert the norms of society’s pre-existing values regarding femininity and masculinity.
Presenting seven pearl necklaces, the capsule collection aptly ties in to the recent adoption of pearls seen on the Fall/Winter 2020 menswear runways, and features bold hardware crafted in the same vein as Comme des Garçons’ house imagery where nameplate-inspired chain tags and extra interlinking chains in sterling silver elevate the pieces. These contemporary elements are juxtaposed alongside Akoya and White South Sea Mikimoto pearls, or as Kawakubo puts it: “The image of pearls overlaps in places with the image of Comme des Garçons.”
Undoubtedly, in combining the classism of Mikimoto with the adventurous spirit of Comme des Garçons, pearls have not only overcome their occasionally staid image, they’ve also taken a giant step forward in gender neutrality.
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