A chat with Michelle Elie about her obsession with Comme des Garcons and her upcoming museum exhibition

Dear Shaded Viewers,

This was first published in February.

I find the idea of Michelle’s exhibition very exciting and wanted to share our little chat with you. Above are a selection of pieces from the exhibition.

DP: How long have you been collecting CDG?

ME: Since 1995. My very first big purchase at the Comme shop in NYC was back in 1995. It was a revelation for me. I remembered getting my first big campaign money from MAYBELINE beauty advertising and I went directly and spent half of it in the Comme shop NYC. I could finally afford to buy a piece. I had no regrets since then. It was the best investment piece ever. Little did I know then that I would become a collector. I think I must of had a direct connection to the Comme des Garçons shop on Wooster street. It was not like anything else in New York at that time. I like the way I felt just being in the shop and looking at the clothes. The Comme des Garcons shop at the time filled a gap in life growing up in NYC.

DP: When did your obsession begin and why are you so drawn to the creations and her view of women?

ME: It is not actually an Obsession but rather a commitment to a brand based on ideology of creation is upmost and bridging it with her success to own her company and her freedom. Comme des Garçons for me at the time living in NYC was my escape to another world beside NY. I wanted more, I wanted design, Conceptual, travel, another culture. It made me dream of Japan or Japanese culture or Europe. I was not traveling to Europe at this point yet. I wanted something in my life and I found it there at the Comme des Garcons Soho shop. I would spend hours walking in soho between Yohji , Comme, and the galleries and there was also Matsuda and Paul Smith a bit further up and there was Barneys downtown with these incredible windows by Simon Doonan and the flea markets on 6 Avenue.  These were my dreams and my escape to fashion to another world where I could express my inner self and where I belong.

I really think more what I wish to express through clothes. Her idea of beauty is a fascination for me because it challenges the body, the use of your body. I really believe that she explores different shapes and angles of forms in fashion. It is always the question ‘ What if….’and ‘ Why Not..’ I found her vision intriguing and it makes me as well question all that I have learned for my own identity and my ideology on many levels besides fashion. It is a way of life for me.  It pushes me and has given me tremendous power to make the impossible possible. I think this exhibition is a living proof of this. How incredible is she!

DP: What are your 12 favourite pieces?

ME: This is tough question to answer. I Love all of them. Each piece has it own personal story for me. I bought them with one thing in mind “ Love:”

If I had the financial means to buy the entire Spring 2016 ( Blue Witch) I would. And also Spring 2015.

I can never get enough of Fall 2012 either.

As I look back, I have missed some of the most important and Iconic pieces for me which were Spring 2011 (multiple personalties) pieces such as  the three dresses and  the two twin dresses . If I could ever find them, I will definitely add them to my wardrobe. They are the most challenging pieces of clothing I have ever seen and want to experience.

DP: ANY chance that the exhibition will travel….like to Paris or Tokyo?

ME: I would love for it to come to Paris!

For now it is best for the clothes not to travel too much to protect them damage that can be caused by a long exhausting exhibition. I would love it to come to Paris and Vienna for sure. But that is the conversation. I also want to have my wardrobe back to wear not just as a trophy collection.

DP: Have you met Rei? If yes, how did that go?

ME: I  have seen her in the showroom during the Paris fashion but I had a proper introduction backstage last season.

Last season  it was short and felt a bit odd. Because, what can one say to her, almost nothing except to say it is a pleasure to meet you…. After all she doesn’t speak English only Japanese so our conversation would be quite limited. I think we have met through her work and that is a  much stronger communication than it would be in person right now. It is always a good idea to keep your admiration from a distance  to avoid being disappointed.

DP: Did you visit her in Tokyo?

ME: No, I would love too. I met her in Paris during the shows. It would be a dream to have a tea with her. Just another normal casual day. It would a dream to visit the atelier in Tokyo. I would love that so much….

DP: Where do you buy the pieces? Directly from the showroom in Paris?

ME: When I lived in NYC it was through the Comme des Garcons shop and while living in Europe In  Koln I buy from a shop called HEIMAT, in addition to  Comme des Garcons in Paris, New York or DOVER STREET MARKET LONDON and as well KASURI NY. It is pretty much all over because I am always searching for pieces that I would love to wear.

DP: How do you feel when you wear a piece of hers?

ME: The act of disappearing to reappear. Transformation!

DP: What will we see in the documentary on you?

ME: A video installation for the museum exhibition by GIANLUCA MATARRESE  and he will be releasing a final version of the documentary edited  in the same style of he did for the doc on Casey Spooner. Gianluca has been documenting me since 2018 along with Casey Spooner and now the museum has asked him to do a shorter documentary on me for the exhibition. He will have two short films within the exhibition. He is such a good Videographer. So happy that he has been able to document this whole process.

Thank you Michelle.








Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.