The Piece: Out of Comme des Garçons' famed Spring/Summer 1997 "Dress Meets Body" collection, this iconic padded-bump knit dress is something of a study in avant-garde design. Three-dimensional, tactile, and most definitely conversation-worthy, this elevates the little black sweater dress into another realm. Available now for $598.
The Collection: Nicknamed "Lumps and Bumps" by critics, the collection received a seven-minute ovation when it was presented at Musee d'Art Afrique et D'Oceanie in Paris. When you know Rei Kawakubo's original inspiration for her Comme des Garçons label came from the concept, "The only way to make something new was to start out not wanting to make clothes," her rebellious, sculptural, creations, enlivened with voluminous, kidney-shaped pads, seem all the more intelligent and purposeful. The collection defies time, trends, and most importantly, the natural human body.
The collection also led to unique collaboration between Rei Kawakubo and leader of the modern avant-garde dance movement, Merce Cunningham. The wildly padded garments acted not only as costumes for a 1997 performance called Scenario, they became a center character in themselves.
How to Style It: This is the kind of dress that stands best on its own, with just a few strong accents to make it clear you know what you're doing - and that the dress isn't wearing you. Unadulterated confidence, a knowing smirk, and a slick pair of black ankle boots, like Givenchy's chain-topped take ($1,650 on Net-a-Porter) provide maximum swagger.