Comme des Garçons

Fate and Free Will in These Digitally Dickensian Times

  • Photography: Tim Gutt
  • Styling: Michele Rafferty

“...the streets and courts dart in all directions, until they are lost in the unwholesome vapour which hangs over the house-tops, and renders the dirty perspective uncertain and confined; and lounging at every corner, as if they came there to take a few gasps of such fresh air as has found its way so far, are groups of people...”

—Charles Dickens, Sketches by Boz

Scoffed at by critics and diminished to a writer of platitudes, Charles Dickens is often misunderstood. A name-cum-adjective that’s been tossed around with such frequency and implemented to mean so many things at once, it has lost its meaning entirely. Peel back a few layers, though, and what’s revealed is a deep understanding of the complexities of the universal human struggle.

But this isn’t Dickensian London—the Industrial Revolution ended nearly 200 years ago. The unwholesome vapour shrouding the streets and house-tops today isn’t of the manufacturing variety. It’s the stink of data harvesting, Brexit, and Trumpian Twitter. The “few gasps of such fresh air,” exists now allegorically—found only by somehow evading tech. By leaving your phone at home. Running through the streets hands-free is revolutionary and offers an element of reverie, even if just for an instant. The constraints of the civility expected in public spaces is temporarily frozen. No rules or requirements, no decorums. Is hanging out with people in real life the new punk?

Who better to costume this cast than she who transcends all conventional notions of what it means to be beautiful? What Dickens did with words—layered heavily, favored realism, fate and free will, mistaken identities, wry wit and excess—Rei Kawakubo does through design. “When you put on clothes that are fighting against something, you can feel your courage grow. Clothing can set you free,” Kawakubo told Interview in 2015. The feeling of flouting the strictures of metropolitan life—where all that’s required, maybe, are a pair of trainers and a sequined blazer.

Translating Dickensian London into the 21st Century, trading the Industrial Revolution for what might be the brink of a revolution of user agency, Tim Gutt photographs Comme Des Garçons Homme, Comme des Garçons Homme Deux, and Comme des Garçons Homme Plus—apparel for an unorthodox era.

  • Photography: Tim Gutt
  • Styling: Michele Rafferty
  • Photography Assistant: Ho Hai Tran
  • Photography Assistant: Henry Hunt
  • Styling Assistant: Lilly Ellis
  • Casting Assistant: Lilly Ellis
  • Makeup: Paul Rodgers using MAC
  • Models: Cheznay/PRM, Malik/Wilhelmina, Sam/Troy, Samson/Tomorrow is Another Day, Nathan Rosen, Arthur Richardson
  • Producer: Michel Bewley-Bienvenu
  • Special Thanks To: Tristram @ Tristam Linsley Studio, Loz @ North 17 Studio