[FASHION] Rei Kawakubo - Founder of Comme des Garcons
- Designer Rei Kawakubo.
The Past and the Present
Fashion Designer Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garcons, was
born in Tokyo in 1942. Being untrained as a fashion designer, but
having studied fine arts and literature, she conveys her ideas
verbally to her patternmakers. After graduation Kawakubo worked in a
textile company and began working as a freelance stylist in 1967.
In 1973, she established her own company, Comme des Garcons Co., Ltd
in Tokyo. Starting out with women's clothes, Kawakubo added a men's
line in 1978. Two years later, she moved to Paris and presents her
fashion lines there each season. At the same time she opened up her
first boutique in Paris.
Following her breakthrough in Paris, Comme des Garcons clothing was
often subject of exhibitions around the world.
Comme des Garcons specializes in anti-fashion, austere, sometimes
deconstructed garments, sometimes lacking a sleeve or other
component. Her garments are primarily in black, dark gray, and
white, often worn with combat boots.
Her designs have inspired many new designers like e.g.the Belgian
Martin Margiela and Ann Demeulemeester, as well as Austrian designer
Helmut Lang. The newest offspring of Kawakubo's fashion think tank
is former apprentice Junya Watanabe, who has recently attained much
attention in the fashion business.
Kawakubo is a member of the Chambre Syndicale du Pret-a-Porter.
Rei Kawakubo is the first officer and owner of Comme des Garcons
Ltd. She is said to keep responsibility for all artistic and
business issues in her company.
While in the early eighties Comme des Garcons achieved sales of $30
million in 150 Japanese shops alone. Although the recognition around
the world was high when Kawakubo left the Japanese islands, sales of
exports still contribute only 10% to total sales. Total sales by
1990 were at $100 million. Comme des Garcons clothing output is said
to outnumber the combined effort of Japanese competitors Yamamoto
and Miyake by far.
By the late 80s Comme des Garcons operated more than 300 stores
worldwide. A fourth of these stores were located outside of Japan.
There, only a small part of the Kawakubo lines are available. Homme,
Homme Deux, Tricot, and Robe de Chambre are lines which are
predominately created for the Japanese market. Different range
segments are shipped overseas, as well as different sizes. But also
the prices vary around a third from these demanded in Japan. The
unique design of Comme des Garcons stores puts Kawakubo's clothes
emphatically into scene by avoiding all distracting elements. She
ensures a similar appearence in all outlets by working together with
Japanese architect Takao Kawasaki for years.
After successfully entering the markets outside of Japan, Kawakubo
also started to manufacture abroad. Production is concentrated in
France avoiding trade barriers for Japanes products and the
volatility of the Yen in order to maintain competitiveness with
European designers. Kawakubo resisted the temptation of licensing
products other than fashion for a long time. Only the Italian
furniture manufacturer Pallucco produces furniture in her name for
some years now.
COMME des GARcONS LDT.
Minato-ku, Tokyo 107, Japan
Tel.: (+03) 3407-2480
FAX.: (+03) 5485-2439
* 16, place Vendme,
75001 Paris, France
* 42, rue Etienne Marcel
75002 Paris, France
Tel.: (+1) 18.104.22.168
59 Brook Street
London W1, Great Britain
Tel.: (+44) 0171/493 1258 New York Boutique
116 Wooster Street
New York, N.Y., U.S.A.
Tel.: (+212) 219-0660 Toyko Boutique
Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Tel.: (+03) 406-3951
Date of Birth 1954
Place of Birth Tokyo
Rei Kawakubo is a top Japanese designer. Rei Kawakubo and Youji
Yamamoto are respected by new age designers. For example,
Mr.Alexander Maqueen who is top new age designer in U.K. respects
her. And they are familiar to the world.
Once she worked as stylist, and she began to make clothes. The
clothes made by her are called "Comme des Garcons". "Comme des
Garcons" means "Like as child". Her clothes are very unique and
attract many people. And they are popular with young and middle age
She has succeeded not only as in top designer but also in business.
She runs a big company which has many sections, for example, "Comme
des Garcons", "robe de chamble", "tricot Comme des Garcons", "Comme
des Garcons Comme des Garcons", "Comme des Garcons homme", "Comme
des Garcons homme plus","Junya Watanabe Comme des Garcons",and"Comme
des Garcons Man". And her company spread to Europe. By the way,
Junya Watanabe who once was her assistant is now her companies main
designer at "tricot Comme des Garcons", "Junya Watanabe Comme des
Garcons""Comme des Garcons Man".
She shows people her collection in Paris. And every time, we are
surprised and this has us buy her clothese. So fashion journalists
in Europe admire of her collection and herself.
Rei Kawakubo is among the most respected and unconventional
designers in contemporary fashion. As the driving force behind
Commes des Garcons, she has continually challenged current ideals of
body shape, garment construction and use of colour.
Refusing to conform to conventional notions of beauty, Kawakubo
creates her own statements through radical silhouette and structure.
In doing so, she is credited with revolutionising fashion.
Born in Tokyo in 1942, she studied literature before working as a
stylist, but was never formally trained in fashion design
or 'clothes making' as she prefers to call it. Commes des Garcons
was founded in 1969 as a way to supplement her income (and a men's
line was added in 1978), but it wasn't until 1981 that she sprang to
fame with her first Paris presentation.
A shock to the West at that time, Kawakubo's approach directly
challenged the era's fixation with a commercially-conceived
expression of glamour. The 1981 collection was dubbed 'Hiroshima
chic' for its domination of black. Her output is frequently
described as 'anti-fashion' or 'art', owing to Kawakubo's conceptual
and intellectual rigour, but this cerebral methodology hasn't
stopped her building one of the biggest independent fashion empires
where she not only enjoys complete artistic freedom, but also
significant financial success.
Kawakubo's designs continue to inspire younger generations of
designers including Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang and Ann
Demeulemeester, while former apprentice Junya Wanatabe's stellar
practice burgeons from within the Comme des Garcons domain.