Noir Kei Ninomiya spring 2022 ready to wear collection

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“For this collection, black is expressed through shadows,” said Kei Ninomiya in his notes. “I wanted to express the ephemeral strength and beauty of things that are present around us although we cannot see them clearly.”

The show was held in Aoyama, Tokyo, at the Commes des Garçons headquarters, so many thanks to my colleague Saori Masuda of Vogue Japan who was in the room, and who fed back via email: “The atmosphere was very light, in a good way, with a good, positive vibe.”

Ninomiya has experimented with non-Noir color previously, most often via brilliant botanical worn installations that were absent today. Instead he expressed his notion of black’s shadow by creating a series of pieces in beige.

The idea of something casting a paler shadow than itself implied a reversed polarity of some kind, and the paler procession of pieces did indeed mostly cover the still-breathtaking territory we have seen Ninomiya explore before. Sometimes, as in Look 15, they also looked to break new-for-Noir ground.

Two more novelties were the use of woven hemp in rope-adjacent, wearable structures and the first written branding, beyond the garment label itself, that I’ve ever seen featured on Noir’s clothing.

The name of the brand was used to make rough white-on-black stripes and checks, which was fine enough on pants, shirts, and cycling shorts. When applied to a more sculptural piece, however, such as Look 9, this branding felt pretty extraneous; for who else could that dress be by but Ninomiya?