Comme des Garçons

Rei Kawakubo was born in Tokyo in 1942. After studying fine art at Keio University, she first did advertising for a Japanese chemical company that produced acrylic fabrics before starting her brand in 1969. Comme des Garcons is named after the title of a French soldier's song meaning "Like the Boys" ; Kawakubo set out to design clothes that defied and warped conventional sexuality. Her early work featured a monochrome palette and distressed fabrics influenced by the Japanese workwear of fishermen and peasants. Kawakubo’s followers in Japan were called “the crows” because they dressed in all black and were rejected by the American press at first; critics called them “nuclear bag ladies.” [1] Kawakubo opened a new avenue in women’s fashion during a time when most American women in the workforce in the 80s were dressed in skirt suits; women in the creative fields started dressing in billowing oversized garments that were both extremely loud and unsexy. This new style was a form of power for women, who could take control over their image and the way they were perceived. Kawakubo became known for building every garment in the “wrong” ways, turning human bodies into entirely new creatures through constructed shapes and lines. Kawakubo is as much an architect as a designer, her use of layering and asymmetry meant as a challenge to the wearer; “I think that pieces that are difficult to wear are very interesting, because if people make the effort and wear them, then they can feel a new form of energy and a certain strength. I want to give people that chance.” The first Comme des Garçons shop did not have mirrors because Kawakubo wanted people to buy clothes based on feel rather than the way they looked.[2] For Kawakubo, clothes are about concept, environment, and movement, not just the initial design. Her shapes are meant to warp and come alive on moving bodies. Despite Comme des Garçons ethos of being noncommercial, the company’s refusal to adhere to fashion norms has made it hugely profitable and coveted today.

Comme des Garçons

08-15-21

Rei Kawakubo was born in Tokyo in 1942. After studying fine art at Keio University, she first did advertising for a Japanese chemical company that produced acrylic fabrics before starting her brand in 1969. Comme des Garcons is named after the title of a French soldier's song meaning "Like the Boys" ; Kawakubo set out to design clothes that defied and warped conventional sexuality. Her early work featured a monochrome palette and distressed fabrics influenced by the Japanese workwear of fishermen and peasants. Kawakubo’s followers in Japan were called “the crows” because they dressed in all black and were rejected by the American press at first; critics called them “nuclear bag ladies.” [1] Kawakubo opened a new avenue in women’s fashion during a time when most American women in the workforce in the 80s were dressed in skirt suits; women in the creative fields started dressing in billowing oversized garments that were both extremely loud and unsexy. This new style was a form of power for women, who could take control over their image and the way they were perceived. Kawakubo became known for building every garment in the “wrong” ways, turning human bodies into entirely new creatures through constructed shapes and lines. Kawakubo is as much an architect as a designer, her use of layering and asymmetry meant as a challenge to the wearer; “I think that pieces that are difficult to wear are very interesting, because if people make the effort and wear them, then they can feel a new form of energy and a certain strength. I want to give people that chance.” The first Comme des Garçons shop did not have mirrors because Kawakubo wanted people to buy clothes based on feel rather than the way they looked.[2] For Kawakubo, clothes are about concept, environment, and movement, not just the initial design. Her shapes are meant to warp and come alive on moving bodies. Despite Comme des Garçons ethos of being noncommercial, the company’s refusal to adhere to fashion norms has made it hugely profitable and coveted today.

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