Kawakubo is one of the most secretive and reclusive designers, which only intrigues her fans even more so. And who isn’t a fan of hers? She’s been a quintessential figure for decades since her career began in the early 1970s, when she established Commes des Garcons in Tokyo. A brand that was meant to revolt against luxury houses and now has a cult-like following that is hard to escape. It began as an avant-garde, anti-fashion label, and eventually, afters years of being misunderstood, developed into something quiet unpredictably playful, romantic and poetic, a vision that Kawakubo had from the start. And to this day has not lost its edge, and as of right now, their website proudly says “Wear your freedom.”
As journalist Alice Rawsthorn once wrote,
“Fashion was so much more politicised [in the 80s], because feminism was so important. What you wore said so much about your own identity, and how you wanted to represent yourself. Comme was the perfect solution. Swathing yourself in those black folds felt super chic, super uncompromising, super radical and super feminist – like waving a very elegant two-fingered salute at the establishment.”
The brand did eventually produced a men’s line without loosing any of its spirit. It also produced some of the most beautiful ads than any other label, often without featuring a single article of clothing, a trend that other labels would eventually follow.
Kawakubo is one of the designers whose name often comes up when it’s time to defend fashion design as an artform, from the often critique that fashion is merely a necessary and practical life requirement. To want to know more about Rei, one only needs to dissect her designs, and the exhibitions will make it quiet easier for some.
Kawakubo’s own personal style of black leather jackets and her signature bob, is so identifiable, she’s a mainstay of the fashion scene who everyone loves. Every year she keeps us excited for her next collection, just as the news of this very likely exhibition is. because quiet frankly it’s been a long time coming.