Fashion's bumpy night of lumps and humps

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The Independent Online
"The dress meets the body. The body meets the dress. And they are one," said the Comme Des Garcons spokesperson before the show in Paris on Tuesday night. We knew then to expect something challenging. The lights went down and with only the whirring of the camera motor drives for music, the first model walked out with a sheer black stretch top, a hump over her bottom and knitted pads shoved down the back of her top to make her look like a cross between Elephant Man, Quasimodo and the eccentric night-clubber, performance artist and Lucien Freud model, the late Leigh Bowery.

Rei Kawakubo, the label's designer, chooses to ignore the trends that dog most fashion designers. Instead, Kawakubo tries to push the boundaries of fashion forward and challenge the way people think. She does not stop at dresses and jackets. On Tuesday night, she redesigned the human body.

As the hand-selected members of press and buyers invited to the show stifled their giggles, model after model walked down the silent runway with their humps and lumps, strange tumours and growths. Brightly-coloured dresses wrapped around the body, gathered strange padding underneath. One looked like she was pregnant with a boa constrictor which had just eaten a fully-grown sheep. Another skinny waif had the bottom of a fat woman bobbing along behind her. Kawakubo may be an artist and a sculptor, but it is difficult to understand who would buy this collection to wear.

Yesterday, at Chloe, just one of the many labels designed by the prolific Karl Lagerfeld, the theme was Eighties disco dolly. Photographers booed at the end of the show after being bombarded by an endless stream of models pacing furiously around the catwalk. There were satin disco hip-huggers in pastel colours, signature frilly dresses, delicate lingerie and, for Kate Moss, a miniature Elvis suit in white with rhinestones. Lagerfeld is expected not to renew his contract with Chloe next season, leaving another key position at a Paris fashion house up for grabs.