Inside Rei Kawakubo’s Head

Orli Sharaby
  • 25 february 2008

Comme des Garcons is one of the most intriguing and innovative fashion labels out there today — and so, naturally, one of our favorites. From their groundbreaking guerrilla stores to their eternally deconstructed designs, Comme des Garcons is always pushing the envelope. And Rei Kawakubo has created a veritable indie empire, with shoot-off labels by Tao Kurihara, Junya Watanabe and now Fumito Ganryu, not to mention the Dover Street Market in London. Cathy Horyn has an article in this week’s New York Times Style Magazine’s Spring 2008 issue (the one that Piers very rightly points out is 95% white) which gives a rare look into the fascinating life of Rei Kawakubo, who runs Comme des Garcons like a “zen master.” Talking about Kawakubo’s 1996 collection, whose runway show in the fall of 1996 came to be known as “Lumps and Bumps” because of its clothes’ strange, hideous, tumor-like growths and Quasimodo shapes, Horyn explains:

Kawakubo said she was interested in exploring “volume and space.” If you begin with the outline made by her shapes (the classic “silhouette”) and then pull back – moving away, as it were, from the confinements of fashion – you realize that Kawakubo has in fact recreated a reality of the late 20th century: the individual seemingly joined to her backpack and her burdens; even the act of talking on a cellphone assumes a spatial connection, producing what appears in the abstract to be a growth. Kawakubo’s objective was not to distort the female body but rather to express a thought that probably, for her, began with a gesture or a glimpse. Some designers…solve problems of dressmaking….Kawakubo, working more in the spirit of an artist than any designer today, attacks the problems of consciousness.

New York Times Style Magazine: Gang of Four


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