“Fashion is something you attach to yourself, put on, and through that interaction the meaning of it is born.”
Rei Kawakubo is a 70 year old Japanese fashion designer who is responsible for the label Comme des Garçons (started in 1969). Her fashion has a unique look to it, which originally was comprised of black and white asymmetrical looks. Later on, she brought in more color, but her label remains a big player in Avant Garde fashion. The company has had mainstream success, and in 2008 she even did a guest like for H&M, a popular “fast fashion” retailer. Her designs go against most traditional views of clothing,and it is a far cry from the punk-y and crazy looks of Vivienne Westwood. She is quiet about her personal life, but she is very modest and quick to explain that she doesn’t see herself as any more special than anyone else, even though most would regard her as an artist.
Rei Kawakubo speaks about mass appeal, “In order to expand Comme des Garçons’ business, we need all kinds of strategies. One of the most important strategies is to find sources of new creation. With H&M, I was tempted to try to see how Comme des Garçons could appeal to the mass market. I wouldn’t do it again, but it was a great success and very popular with our younger clientele. Junya Watanabe [whose label operates under the CDG umbrella] is a part of such a necessary company-expansion policy. With any collaboration or meeting of minds, I expect and hope for a kind of synergetic accident that may happen when somebody else’s work meets with my work, my designs. Collaborations have no meaning if 1 + 1 does not equal much more than 2. I give total freedom to Junya and Tao [Kurihara, who also designs for CDG] to create their own collections. I see their work only on the day of the show. They have the values of CDG embedded within them. If there was no trust, it wouldn’t work.” [x]
“Rei is like a compass,” enthuses Celine designer Phoebe Philo..“She is tuned into some deep sense of where we are today. I don’t always understand it, but I get the feeling that she is right to be there anyway. On days where I feel tired or flat, her universe always gives me the fight to continue.” [x]