Rei Kawakubo

Rei Kawakubo  (b. 1942) is a Japanese fashion designer based in Tokyo and Paris. She is the founder of Comme des Garçons and Dover Street Market. In recognition of the notable design contributions of Kawakubo, an exhibition of her designs entitled Rei Kawakubo/Commes des Garçons, Art of the In-Between opened on May 5, 2017 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
Rei Kawakubo was born on 11 October 1942 in Tokyo. Her early life in Japan was summarized by Judith Thurman in a New Yorker article from 2005 stating: "She was the oldest of her parents' three children and their only daughter... Their father was an administrator at Keio University, a prestigious institution founded by the great Meiji educator and reformer Fukuzawa Yukichi, a champion of Western culture and, according to Kawakubo, of women's rights."Although not formally trained as a fashion designer, Kawakubo did study fine arts and literature at Keio University. As reported by Thurman, "In 1960, Kawakubo enrolled in her father's university and took a degree in 'the history of aesthetics', a major that included the study of Asian and Western art."After graduation in 1964, Kawakubo worked in the advertising department at the textile company, Ashai Kasei and she went on to work as a freelance stylist in 1967. Two years later, she began to design and make her own clothes under the label Comme des Garçons, French for "like some boys", before incorporating the label in 1973.






n 1973, she established her own company, Comme des Garçons Co. Ltd in Tokyo and opened up her first boutique there in 1975. Starting out with women's clothes, Kawakubo added a men's line in 1978. Three years later, she started presenting her fashion lines in Paris each season, opening up a boutique in Paris in 1982. Comme des Garçons specialises in anti-fashion, austere, sometimes deconstructed garments. Before the end of her first decade with Comme de Garcons in 1982, Kawakubo began to express her dissatisfaction with the early direction of some of her design ideas stating: "Three years ago I became dissatisfied with what I was doing. I felt I should be doing something more directional, more powerful. In fashion we had to get away from the influence of what had been done in the 1920s or the 1930s. We had to get away from the folkloric. I decided to start from zero, from nothing, to do things that have not been done before, things with a strong image."




By 1980, CDG had flourished and according to Thurman, "had a hundred and fifty franchised shops across Japan, eighty employees, and annual revenues of thirty million dollars." During the 1980s, her garments were primarily in black, dark grey or white. The emphasis on black clothing led to the Japanese press describing Kawakubo and her followers as 'The Crows'. The materials were often draped around the body and featured frayed, unfinished edges along with holes and a general asymmetrical shape. Challenging the established notions of beauty she created an uproar at her debut Paris fashion show where journalists labeled her clothes 'Hiroshima chic' amongst other things. Since the late 1980s, her colour palette has grown somewhat.
Kawakubo likes to have input in all the various aspects of her business, rather than just focusing on clothes and accessories. She is greatly involved in graphic design, advertising, and shop interiors believing that all these things are a part of one vision and are inextricably linked. Her Aoyama, Tokyo, store is known for its sloping glass facade decorated with blue dots. This was designed in collaboration between Rei and architect Future Systems and interior designer Takao Kawasaki.Kawakubo published her own bi-annual magazine, 'Six' (standing for 'sixth sense'), in the early 1990s. It featured very little text and consisted mainly of photographs and images that she deemed inspiring.[9] In 1996 Rei was guest editor of the high art publication Visionaire. Kawakubo is known to be quite reclusive and media shy, preferring her innovative creations to speak for themselves. Prior to 2002, Kawakubo has continued support for the use of LGBT references and cultural themes in the photography used in her advertisement and marketing campaigns promoting her clothing and accessories.






Since 2003, Kawakubo has been referenced and cited by other major designers for her originality and contribution to fashion and design marked by a nationally broadcast program of interviews concerning her work by NHK (Japan Broadcasting Company). During the interviews broadcast, Alexander McQueen stated: "When Kawakubo designs a collection, it seems kind of absurd, not just to the general public. But when you watch someone's challenging themselves like she does every season, it makes you understand why you are in fashion in the first place because of people like her." During the same broadcast, Viktor & Rolf added: "The first time we became aware of Comme de Garcons was in the 80s. I think we were 12 or 13. It made a very strong impression because fashion in general was something that we were starting to discover and Rei Kawakubo was part of this ... an enormous outburst of creativity in the beginning of the 80s. So for us she was part of the way we started to think about fashion."Two other early supporters of Kawakubo were Jean-Paul Gaultier and Donna Karan. During the NHK broadcast for Kawakubo, Gaultier stated: "I believe that Kawakubo is a woman with extreme courage. She is a person with exceptional strength. Moreover, she has a poetic spirit. When I see her creations, I feel the spirit of a young girl. A young girl who still has innocence and is a bit romantic. Yet she also has an aspect of a fighting woman, one who fears nothing as she thrusts forward." During the same broadcast of interviews in Japan, Donna Karan added: "Rei Kawakubo is a very interesting designer to me as a woman and a female designer. As a person, she is very quiet and rather withdrawn, yet her clothes make such an enormous statement."Wikipedia






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