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Rei Kawakubo

Rei Kawakubo | COMME des | Scoop.it
Rei Kawakubo went to university and studied art and literature, like a lot of bright girls do. But then she taught herself how to design, set up shop, and soon started to change the fashion world. Maybe design came over her like a dream, or maybe she was possessed by genius. Wherever that force majeure came from, suddenly this small, mild-mannered woman who had worked in textiles and as a stylist for a bit began to create startlingly original clothes that made the world take notice. She started making clothes under the label Comme des Garçons in 1969 (later incorporating it as a company in 1973). It quickly established an aesthetic that caught on with the art crowd and chic bohemians, and influenced all of fashion. By turns conservative (think black-and-white) and radical (think asymmetry and unfinished), Comme des Garçons became the preferred label of the avant-garde and the highly independent. But it never settled into a set style, and as black gave way to color, near normality would sometimes disguise subtle subversions. Kawakubo designed clothes with a modus operandi more familiar to conceptual art than to fashion. Despite her radical approach, or maybe because of it, Comme des Garçons is today a great success, commercially as well as artistically. Forty years later, she's still at the forefront of fashion, doing her very own thing with the same uncompromising ideals and method. Although she's very much in control of all aspects of her operation, she is hardly focused on herself-Comme des Garçons now also offers lines created by staffers Junya Watanabe and Tao Kurihara. And recently the company extended its reach (and price range) with a collaboration with the huge retailer H&M. Rei Kawakubo was interviewed in Paris by Ronnie Cooke-Newhouse, a longtime friend and creative director who has created advertising for Comme des Garçons among others.

RONNIE COOKE-NEWHOUSE: Journalists sometimes describe you as intellectual, ascribing to you a kind of rigorous, cerebral approach to fashion. Is there another way you would describe yourself?

REI KAWAKUBO: I am not conscious of any intellectual approach as such. My approach is simple. It is nothing other than what I am thinking at the time I make each piece of clothing, whether I think it is strong and beautiful. The result is something that other people decide.

RCN: Next year the company will be 40 years old. When you started, you did so to be a free and independent woman in Japan. How do you remain free?

RK: In terms of creation, I have never thought of suiting any system or abiding by any rules-either a long time ago or right now. In this respect I have remained free. The necessity has grown, as we have gotten bigger, to think about commercial aspects of the business more and more, because of the responsibility we have toward our staff and our factories.

 

RCN: Does the deadline of having to show a collection a few times a year help or hinder your creative process?

RK: Since we are in the business of fashion, deadlines are normal. I can't say if they help or hinder me.

RCN: What is so important about being new? Does creation have to be new?

RK: Creation takes things forward. Without anything new there is no progress. Creation equals new.

RCN: Why do you always go back to black?

RK: I have always liked black. However, recently black has become as habitual as denim, so I wanted to find tomorrow's black.

RCN: How do you balance art and commerce and still remain free.

RK: Feeling free inside oneself is being free.

RCN: Is there something hopelessly bourgeois about being an artist? Do you escape that by making something utilitarian, even if it is described as art?

RK: It is not in order to escape. There is surely worth in making simple things, and there is worth when utility is the concept. But art need not be bourgeois, necessarily. There is nothing bourgeois, for example, about hair artist Julien d'Ys great creation for this collection, where hair, hat, and makeup become one.

RCN: Fashion has become a big business, dominated by large corporate enterprises, like LVMH and the Gucci Group. You collaborate with this world, as you recently did with Louis Vuitton, but you also hold yourself completely apart from it. What is your attitude toward the dominance of fashion by these corporate entities?

RK: There's no deep meaning. It's just business. But even with business methods and ideas, it is necessary to have something new.

RCN: Is fashion purely a practical and aesthetic activity, or does it possess a moral dimension?

RK: What you wear can largely govern your feelings and your emotions, and how you look influences the way people regard you. So fashion plays an important role on both the practical level and the aesthetic level.

RCN: Do you care about critics and commentators?

RK: It would have more meaning for me to hear what critics have to say if their values and their ways of living were deeper and more serious.

RCN: Comme des Garçons has one eye-from fabric, form, shape, shops, and communication to the way you run your company. That is obviously very important to you.

RK: For me this goes without saying, given the -nature of the company I decided to create. It is primordial.

RCN: You say you are a fashion designer, but many people call you an artist. Why do you think they see you as one?

RK: I guess it's because I endeavor to make clothes that didn't exist before.

RCN: Does creating around the human form put limitations on your work?

RK: There are no limits.

RCN: How does it work with Junya and Tao? At what point do you see their collections?

RK: They are members of the Comme des Garçons company, and I see their collections at the rehearsal just before the shows.

RCN: Have you ever been tempted to sell the company?

RK: I have wondered what it would mean for us and a buyer to join together.

RCN: You don't seem to want to be defined or aligned. How would you define yourself?

RK: I don't think of myself as anyone special, and I would not know how to define myself.

RCN: An artist friend defined the difference between art and fashion this way: What an artist makes and sees stays as is; what a designer makes is like two objects-one is what is perceived in a shop and the other is how it looks in the mirror.

RK: Is finding a difference so important, really? Fashion is not art. The aims of fashion and art are different and there is no need to compare them.

RCN: Does the economic downturn affect the way you approach designing a collection. Do you think you have to design easier pieces?

RK: Comme des Garçons has always traveled at its own pace and will continue to do so. In good times and bad times the company is more or less the same.

RCN: You don't use real fur. You won't work with real fur?

RK: I love all animals.

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COMME des GARCONS 2014 Spring Collection

COMME des GARCONS 2014 Spring Collection | COMME des | Scoop.it
"Hatching: something strong is born through the process of hatching… losing the shell," says Rei Kaw...
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COMME des GARCONS WALLET Spring/Summer 2013 Collection - stupidDOPE.com

COMME des GARCONS WALLET Spring/Summer 2013 Collection - stupidDOPE.com | COMME des | Scoop.it
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COMME des GARCONS WALLET Spring/Summer 2013 Collection
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A man should always carry a great wallet, hands down.
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MMG's Stalley Models COMME des GARÇONS PLAY Spring/Summer 2013 Collection [PHOTOS]

MMG's Stalley Models COMME des GARÇONS PLAY Spring/Summer 2013 Collection [PHOTOS] | COMME des | Scoop.it
Maybach Music Group rapper Stalley is well respected as a lyricist. But for the  COMME des GARÇONS PLAY Spring/Summer 2013 collection the Ohio MC tries his hand at modeling.
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La Converse Pro Leather par Comme des Garçons

La Converse Pro Leather par Comme des Garçons | COMME des | Scoop.it
La maison japonaise lance une collection capsule de quatre baskets en collaboration avec la mythique marque de sneakers.
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The Top 5 Men's Trends For Spring/Summer 2013 - Forbes

If you don’t know it yet, camouflage is one of the biggest trends of the season. And Valentino is making a killing on their selling floor with their

Top 5 Men's Trends For Spring/Summer 20131 of 30Camouflage

The military-inspired motif is the hottest print in menswear seen in everything from shirts to shoes. Valentino

modern take on the military print — used as panels on clothes with an unexpected shot of color or as a print on sneakers. The Valentino camouflage sneakers with the studs on the back are in fact the hottest item for spring and there are waiting lists for them. Camo also appeared in the collections of Dries Van Noten, Comme des Garcons and Gant by Michael Bastian and it will rule over fashion until the fall 2013 season.

Stripes of every variety — from nautical to pinstripes to rugby, from horizontal to vertical — are also a strong motif for spring. Almost every look that Tommy Hilfiger showed had a stripe of some sort. At Dior Homme there were plenty of nautical-inspired sweaters as at J. Crew. And Michael Kors went graphic with a black and white vertical striped blazer.

If fall 2012 was all about varsity jackets and hybrids of it, spring’s favored topper is the upgraded baseball jacket. Hermes showed one in light white leather and Gucci’s came in ochre colored suede. And Christopher Bailey at Burberry Prorsum showed baseball jackets in electric shades of blues and purples.

The soft gelato colors we’ve come to associate with spring are taking a back seat this season and giving the spotlight to neon colors, brighter and punchier, either as whole ensembles or just as slivers on the soles of shoes.

Navy and gray suits are well and good in a corporate setting but if you work in a creative field or if you want to make a splash on the weekends, why not slip into a lime colored suit? Or perhaps one in fuchsia or traffic light red? It takes balls to wear something that’s not your average blue suit, I know, but if you can master the confidence and the attitude to pull it off, why not?

Click on the slideshow to see the hottest spring 2013 trends for men.

Follow me on Twitter: @bluecarreon

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Chaos Theor Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons says she isn't out to break the rules. That doesn't mean she hasn't left plenty of themcrumbled in her wak Interview by Matthew Schneier. Portrait by M...

Chaos Theor Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons says she isn't out to break the rules. That doesn't mean she hasn't left plenty of themcrumbled in her wak Interview by Matthew Schneier. Portrait by M... | COMME des | Scoop.it

MS: Do you believe there are rules in fashion? Do you consider yourself to be a rule breaker?

RK: I'm not interested in rules, or whether they are there or not. I do not consciously set out to break rules. I only make clothes that I myself feel are beautiful or good-looking. People maybe say that this way of feeling is against the rules.

MS: You've spoken occasionally about the constant need for newness in your work. Is newness the ultimate goal of design? How would you rank it relative to function and beauty?

RK: What new means to me is something that doesn't exist already and that I haven't seen before. The image I have made once is already no longer new to me, so you could say the goal is not to be found in eternity. Beauty and function are different things, but luckily they have a mutual connection. But the fundamental values around which I built CDG, i.e., creation and new, have no connection to beauty and function.

MS: Do you feel that the fashion industry has become too corporate?

RK: The corporateness of the fashion industry tends to take away or distort the freedom of creation.

MS: Comme des Garçons is an independent exception. What are the benefits of independence? What are the downsides?

RK: The benefit is that I am free, and I don't take notice of the downsides.

MS: Given the state of the fashion world today, do you think a designer could start out independently, as you did, and maintain that independence even while growing to a global scale? Is the world today as hospitable to designers as it was when you began?

RK: I think the fashion world has never been a comfortable, easy place to be in. I mean, in terms of always having to fight to be free to make what one wants.

MS: Where do you see the next great designer coming from?

RK: ???

MS: When you first decided to show in Paris, were you apprehensive about what the reaction would be? Did the reaction you received surprise you?

RK: I always had good reactions from people with a good eye and a vision…and very terrible reactions from those who are afraid of people who are different to others—at the beginning and even now. I have never worried about it too much.

MS: You are one of a handful of designers who generally prefer not to give interviews. Does fashion—either all fashion or your own fashion—lose something in the explanation?

RK: I don't like to explain the clothes, how I made them, the theme, et cetera. It's because the clothes are just as you see them and feel them. That's what I want…just see and feel them. How I thought about them, where any idea came from, what the process is, is not something I like talking about to people.

MS: You have a reputation for seriousness, but in private, I've heard it said that you are very funny. And your collections are distinguished in part by their wit. Is humor an important component of your work and your process?

RK: Nothing to do with the work. The path to making things is tough. The process allows no margin for being funny. It is like a hand-to-mouth world.

MS: You come to New York rarely, but you'll be traveling here more this year to design and then to unveil the newest Dover Street Market. What are your impressions of the city so far, relative to Tokyo or Paris?

RK: Nothing special. Wherever I go, my work is one…the same.

MS: At your Dover Street Market stores, you showcase the work of other designers as well as your own. Why is that important to you?

RK: I have always liked the idea of synergy and accident…the idea of sharing space with other creative people or people who have something to say. We call it beautiful chaos…anything can happen, nothing is decided.

MS: Fashion is taking another look at punk this year, as the subject of the annual Costume Institute exhibition. What does punk mean to you?

RK: The spirit of punk lies in not ingratiating oneself to preordained values nor accepting standard authority.

MS: Some have complained that fashion has stagnated; you yourself have said that the media has enabled uninteresting fashion to thrive. Can this situation change? What would allow that to happen?

RK: I doubt the situation can change. It's because in the world where money rules, the appreciation of the value of true creation is low.

MS: Are advertisers too powerful now in the way that they dictate fashion coverage?

RK: Yes.

MS: Your Fall 2012 "flat" collection has been incredibly influential, and many are noting elements of it reverberating through several Fall '13 collections. Are you aware of this borrowing? Do you consider imitation the sincerest form of flattery, or disappointing?

RK: I am not really aware of this and not too interested either.

MS: How would you like to be remembered?

RK: I want to be forgotten

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Piece Goods and Misty Irreverence - New York Times (blog)

PARIS — Junya Watanabe’s shows are always held on Saturday morning, prompting the usual sullen greeting, “Hello, and where’s the coffee?” Mr. Watanabe provides. He also gave his customers a nice bunch of clothes along familiar Watanabe story lines. These included couture-shaped dresses and loose-back jackets that combined leather and tweed, motorcycle jackets mixed with knitting, and cute, low-riding patchwork jeans. Among the fresher looks were skimmy dresses made from oblong scraps of plaid wool and silk, and worn over black tights.

Over all, the attitude was more street than couture, with a slight punk feel. Embedded in the show were round leather shoulder bags and a few garments that Mr. Watanabe did with Loewe, the Spanish leather-goods house owned by LVMH.

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Shoeniverse: Outfit Options Week - JUNYA WATANABE Vneck Top & MARNI Printed Pocket Skirt

Shoeniverse: Outfit Options Week - JUNYA WATANABE Vneck Top & MARNI Printed Pocket Skirt | COMME des | Scoop.it
Outfit Options Week - JUNYA WATANABE Vneck Top & MARNI Printed Pocket Skirt http://t.co/UMUbJWz28s http://t.co/HZgzUvxi1m
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DJ Spooky Spins Off: From '90s Turntable Phenom to the Met's First Artist in ... - GalleristNY

DJ Spooky Spins Off: From '90s Turntable Phenom to the Met's First Artist in ... - GalleristNY | COMME des | Scoop.it

Paul is DJ Spooky all the time,” said music engineer Dan Yashiv, who collaborated with Spooky on his 2010 mixer app, which has racked up over 15 million downloads. Well, maybe not all the time. He ran into Mr. Miller in Rio a few years ago, and the two spent a day knocking back caipirinhas on the beach. “I’m just remembering that as the moment he was totally just a person. It’s rare to find him relaxed, guard is down, he’s not working, he’s not networking, he’s not planning the next thing.”

A fiendishly cold evening in mid-February found Spooky at home, being a person, or doing a pretty good approximation of one. Home is a Duane Street loft bursting with books, records, CDs and DVDs, some forming dozens of knee-high piles on the bamboo floor. Dust bunnies huddled between towering stacks sporting things like an oversize tome on the history of the Afro and Richard Dawkins’s A Devil’s Chaplain. Rolled-up maps, posters and flags sprouted from boxes shoved up against giant speakers. A tower of CDs leaned in the direction of shelves stocked with 80 bottles of cologne; his favorite is Comme des Garçons 2, a spicy scent in an asymmetrical silver flask. Dangling from garment racks and piled in rumpled pyramids were his many jackets, the chicly utilitarian kind with lots of pockets.

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COMME des GARCONS SHIRT x The Generic Man Fall 2013 Collection | stupidDOPE.com | Music, Fashion, Travel, Art & More!

COMME des GARCONS SHIRT x The Generic Man Fall 2013 Collection | stupidDOPE.com | Music, Fashion, Travel, Art & More! | COMME des | Scoop.it
Collaborations are undoubtedly a staple in the high fashion realm. Parisan based brand COMME des GARCONS is, at times, the subject of those joint ventures.
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Junya Watanabe Spring/Summer 2014

Junya Watanabe Spring/Summer 2014 | COMME des | Scoop.it
Junya Watanabe's spring/summer 2014 collection was surprisingly subdued, but looks that you could actually wear.
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COMME des GARCONS 2014 Spring Collection

COMME des GARCONS 2014 Spring Collection | COMME des | Scoop.it
"Hatching: something strong is born through the process of hatching… losing the shell," says Rei Kaw...
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'Future Beauty': High fashion as high art at SAM | Art review - The Seattle Times

'Future Beauty': High fashion as high art at SAM | Art review - The Seattle Times | COMME des | Scoop.it
'Future Beauty': High fashion as high art at SAM | Art review The Seattle Times Beginning austerely, with a grouping titled “In Praise of Shadows,” the exhibit immediately takes us back 30 years, when Rei Kawakubo's landmark early-'80s work shocked...
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Asian designers centre stage at Paris fashion - FRANCE 24

Asian designers centre stage at Paris fashion - FRANCE 24 | COMME des | Scoop.it
Asian designers centre stage at Paris fashion
FRANCE 24
Later Thursday, influential Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto will also present a collection while Friday will see shows by two more Asian designers -- Juun J.
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COMME des GARÇONS New York Market Market 2 | SLAMXHYPE

COMME des GARÇONS New York Market Market 2 | SLAMXHYPE | COMME des | Scoop.it
COMME des GARÇONS have announced the return of their annual Market Market shopping festival. Check out all details in the image above and go get some gear!
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COMME des GARCONS HOMME Fall/Winter 2013 Collection | stupidDOPE.com | Lifestyle Magazine

COMME des GARCONS HOMME Fall/Winter 2013 Collection | stupidDOPE.com | Lifestyle Magazine | COMME des | Scoop.it
Aside from their collaborative efforts with streetwear and luxury brands alike, COMME des GARCONS is a force all on their lonesome, which is why the
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Two Rebels, One on Pause - New York Times (blog)

Two Rebels, One on Pause - New York Times (blog) | COMME des | Scoop.it

Rei Kawakubo wanted guests for Comme des Garçons to see the clothes in detail, so before her show on Saturday afternoon she moved the front rows closer, narrowing the long runway in a metal-craft warehouse. You could have touched the clothes. That might have been the idea, but it was not necessary. Ms. Kawakubo’s extreme tailoring was easy to parse.

Rosettes, tubes and lumps of classic menswear fabric were embedded in outfits of the same material, creating weird volumes and textures but also feminine decoration. Checked outfits were papered with overlapping squares of checks. There were also a few lumpy looks in rose velvet or lace, but the most extreme outfits were in a deeply saturated, multihued print. We’ve seen this kind of technical virtuosity from Ms. Kawakubo before, but it was interesting to see how feminine symbols, like rosettes, were absorbed into masculine tailoring — and how the masculine forms exploded into decoration.

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Fred Perry Collaborates with visvim, Undercover, Junya Watanabe and Others for its 60th Birthday

Fred Perry Collaborates with visvim, Undercover, Junya Watanabe and Others for its 60th Birthday | COMME des | Scoop.it
To celebrate their 60th anniversary as a clothing label, Fred Perry has joined forces with some of Japan’s biggest names including visvim, Undercover, sacai, kolor, and COMME des GARCONS Junya Wata...
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COMME des GARCONS PLAY x Converse Pro Leather Low | Preview - stupidDOPE.com

COMME des GARCONS PLAY x Converse Pro Leather Low | Preview - stupidDOPE.com | COMME des | Scoop.it
COMME des GARCONS PLAY x Converse Pro Leather Low | Preview
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Although it seems like ages ago, it was only 2009 when the COMME des GARCONS PLAY and Converse collaboration impressed all with its simplistic yet bravado laced style.
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Fred Perry 60th Anniversary Collaborations for Dover Street Market Ginza

Fred Perry 60th Anniversary Collaborations for Dover Street Market Ginza | COMME des | Scoop.it
Following a special customization project with Dover Street Market, English brand Fred Perry's plans...
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