It must have been 1986/87, I walked into ‘Reflections’,a designer store in Amsterdam and saw a man’s suit jacket by Comme des Garçons, so genius I couldn’t believe my eyes! It embodied how I felt about clothes and CDG still does!
Comme des Garçons started in 1969, when Rei Kawakubo was working as a freelance stylist for Japanese magazines and wasn’t satisfied with clothes available for use, so she started designing her own clothes. In the 1960s and 1970s foreign influences were flooding into Tokyo and Rei Kawakubo was inspired by western clothes, but didn’t experience a hindrance by western heritage and restrictions .
She decided not to use her own name, because she wanted the focus of attention on the work itself, not on her. She choose to collaborate with an architect, a photographer, a graphic designer and a floral artist. Instead of models, her clothes were shown by artists and actors (Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat were among them).
CDG started interrogating fashion, deconstructing the western clothes,dismantling spaces, playing with fabrics like distressing or washing, texture was replaced by a blown up photocopy of woven Prince of Wales check,then printed on stretchy nylons. Colors were reduced to black & white variations, like in old photographs, from smoky to grey to deep black and white warm up with sepia to daylight white. Shapes were investigated, bumps were added and gave curves where you normally don’t expect them. A totally different approach to fashion untill then.
Photography has always been very important for CDG, but also there the brand made big changes. The garment or the perfume bottle weren’t the focus, but the picture itself was: first you noticed the picture, than the product in the picture.
Rei Kawakubo created a style, but she is also about continual renewel. To provoke a healthy rivalry within her own company and keep it sharp on the edge,she helped a young designer, Junya Watanabe, whom she trained herself, to set up an independent fashion brand. A daring, but intelligent move!
CDG forever changed the way people look, think and feel about fashion. Rei Kawakubo is a visionair, an inspiration to never stop reinventing myself and my work……… www.comme-des-garcons.com