Rei Kawakubo

Rei Kawakubo

Born on 11th October, 1942, Rei Kawakubo is a fashion designer from Tokyo, Japan and the creator of Comme des Garçons.

She did not attain a degree in fashion designing but has studied literature and art at Keio University. After graduation, she was employed in a textile firm and also did freelance styling in 1967. Later, she founded her own company and opened her first fashion store in 1975. Her brand started off with female clothing and within three years, she introduced menswear as well. Soon she began presenting her collections at different season shows in Paris and by 1982 opened a boutique in the city of Eiffel Tower.

Comme des Garçons is famous for its austere, anti-fashion and at times deconstructed apparel. During the 80s, garment made by Rei were primarily in white, grey and black. The fabrics were draped and frayed, with rough edges and asymmetrical shapes. Afterwards, the color palette in her work has incorporated more hues.

Rei is not only involved with the creative department of her business, she also focuses on other aspects other than accessories and clothes. She also shows a keen interest in the interiors of her shops, advertising and promotion of her label as well as graphic designing.

In 1996, she did guest editing for Visionaire magazine. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, the designer told the media that although people think of her as a fashion icon but she doesn’t imagine herself in that way. She does not think of herself as special and often struggles in  defining herself.

Her work inspired many other designers like Helmut Lang, Ann Demeulemeester and Martin Margiela. In addition to this, she is a member of Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter.

More than this, she owns many other lines such as Play Comme des Garçons, Comme Des Garcons for H&M, Tricot Comme des Garçons, Comme des Garçons Homme Plus Evergreen and some other collections.

According to Rei Kawakubo, creation of new ideas is important since it takes things in a forward direction. If nothing original is produced, then progress is not possible. The equivalent to ‘new’ is ‘creation’.

Most of Kawakubo’s designs include black color. This is because she has always preferred the hue above others. Black will never become old and for Rei it has become a somewhat habit to incorporate this shade in her designs. She is always finding the black of tomorrow.

The additional benefit that designers like Rei gain is that they have the power of art with them. Their work speaks more than them. Kawakubo thinks that anything that people wear, governs their emotions and feelings. Appearance influences others and thus fashion plays a critical role in terms of aesthetics and practicality.

Her clients and individuals in general call Rei an artist as well as a fashion designer. To such statements, Rei says that she creates clothes that didn’t exist before and that there is no limit to creations. Fashion and art are two different things and both can’t be compared, although they can be blended.

Kawakubo believes that inspiration to her does not come from things that exist already around her and she can see them such as galleries, people, places, museums and so on. Instead, she feels that the ideas and thoughts in one’s mind are what need attention. This is how new things are created.


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