by Erin Moonyeen Haley
Were we below the sea or dancing among the stars? It was hard to say, even if you were front and center at the Noir Kei Ninomiya show at Paris Fashion Week '23. What was certain, however, was that the conceptualization of fashion was supplanted by the extravagance of costumery. Bioluminescent couture transmitted a sense of deep-sea wonderment while nature-inspired designs crafted looks that called to mind dandelions with hypersensitive bristles.
Some costumes looked like life-sized representations of cell structure and still others hinted at playful Futurism with pompoms peppering hot pink and licorice-black fitted jackets and blazers. Nature - both earthbound and celestial - was evident everywhere. Backstage, Ninomiya professed to be working towards "a blooming.", a soft verb that found expression as models walked the runway wearing the equivalent of art installations; attachments were rooted with slender wires, allowing flowers and florets to butterfly around the body in an aesthetic that was pure Eden-like whimsy. Soapy attachments elevated foam to a haute couture fabric while oversized netting that could snare a mermaid was used to embellish skirts.
Adherence to the basics of the molecular structure was evident in accessories as well. Hats were outlandishly shaped, with some calling to mind Bowen Yang's iceberg hat from his iconic Titanic skit on SNL, save for the fact that they were painted in fluorescents that could sear the eyes and warn anyone of impending doom. Shoes were skyscraper high, with thick heels and pixilated sparkles - a wishlist item for Ginger Spice. Still others were black and covered in hooks and hardware, ideal boots for a cyberspace battle. And just when things might have gotten too serious, magenta socks with polka-dots kept the capriciousness frisky and fashionable.