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Rei Kawakubo, a Woman Behind Comme des Garçons

The string of fashion and brand have made Rei Kawakubo the avant-garde of CDG.
Source: mtv.com

Rei Kawakubo was born on October 11, 1942 in Tokyo, Japan. She is a self-taught Japanese fashion designer known for her avant-garde clothing designs and her high fashion label, Comme des Garçons (CDG). Rei Kawakubo was one of the most influential designers of the late 20th century.

Rei Kawakubo studied art and aesthetics at Keio University in Tokyo and graduated in 1964. Her mother was a role model for her, her mother abandoned her father Kawakubo when he was not allowed to work outside the home. Rei Kawakubo being an independent woman, she left home after finishing college and took a job in the advertising department of Asahi Kasei, a manufacturer of acrylic fiber textiles. There she was given creative freedom by her superiors and was involved in collecting props and costumes for photo shoots. The activity made her design her own clothes when there were no suitable costumes for the photo shoot.

Source: elle.co.id

In 1967 she decided to become a freelance stylist. Kawakubo started selling his designs under the CDG label to stores in Tokyo in 1969. In 1973 she opened her first store. Within a decade she had 150 stores all over Japan and made $30 million annually. She designs women’s clothing for mobility and comfort. She designs clothes for independent women who don’t dress to seduce or gain men’s approval. She withdrew from the western definition of sexiness, focusing on revealing and exposing the body. She finds revealing clothes unsexy and boring.

In the late 1970s Kawakubo had a professional as well as romantic relationship with the famous Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto. They make clothes that change fashion and challenge the conception of feminine beauty. They debuted separately in Paris in 1981 and shocked critics. Kawakubo and Yamamoto continued to collaborate for several years and together with Issey Miyake are considered the most innovative fashion designers in Japan.

Source: hypebeast.com

Kawakubo started to develop CDG with three clothing lines, namely Homme which is a menswear (1987) and two additional women’s clothing lines namely Tricot and Robe de Chambre (1981). In 1983 she opened his first store in the US, on the third floor of Henri Bendel, a luxury department store in New York City.

Kawakubo’s designs early in his career used a lot of materials and often looked thick on the wearer’s body. Because it doesn’t match the industry’s perception of what women want, her clothes are sometimes described as antifashion. Destroy was her influential 1982 collection, featuring loose knit sweaters that were too large with holes of various sizes that looked as if they had been slit open. The dark, disheveled style is referred to by the media as the “postatomic look” or “Hiroshima style” and, sometimes, the “bag lady” look.

In 1988 she launched her magazine, Six, a bi-annual large-format publication featuring his seasonal collections. Six are as many journals of contemporary art and ideas as fashion magazines. CDG has published eight editions of Six, the last of which was printed in 1991. These publications are an example of how Kawakubo’s aesthetic vision steered the company’s overall image, its graphic designs, its advertising, its fashion show atmosphere, and its minimalist and monochromatic interior design.

Source: owjwo.com & retailinasia.com

Sometimes Kawakubo’s clothing designs are so abstract and unconventional that they can hardly be worn. A collection often cited in that context is Dress Meets Body, Body Meets Dress (spring/summer 1997), which features garments with blobs of padding placed in unattractive places.

With the guidance of CDG CEO, Adrian Joffe (also husband and translator of Kawakubo), Kawakubo was able to skillfully penetrate the fashion market in various ways. In 1994 she released her first fragrance, Odeur 53. In 2004 CDG spread to cities around the world briefly and lasted no more than one year in certain locations. Kawakubo, Joffe, and CDG are considered the originators of the pop-up shop trend. They stopped producing pop-up stores in 2008. In addition to her high-priced Comme des Garçons clothing, Kawakubo created more accessible commercial lines including Play (2002), a streetwear collection aimed at younger consumers; dedicated line for H&M stores (2008); and Black (2009), a collection of lower prices than last season’s best sellers.

Source: crfashionbook.com

Kawakubo and Joffe also created an upscale fashion mecca called Dover Street Market (DSM). Originally opened on Dover Street in London, DSM has the concept of a Kensington market which is no longer available in London, which is a three-story bazaar that caters to subcultural fashions. Kawakubo organized DSM by inviting a number of international designers, from established to up-and-coming ones. They display and sell their collections in any way they choose. DSM also features art installations. In 2012 Kawakubo opened another DSM store in the Ginza district of Tokyo and the following year, 2013 she opened another DSM store in New York City. Like Kensington Market, once nestled among the high-end retail shops of the High Street, Dover Street Market often takes place in the most unlikely of places.

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