COMME des GARÇONS creations that anticipated the future.
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To call Rei Kawakubo "only" a revolutionary would be a gross understatement: she has literally single-handedly rewritten the meaning of the avant-garde in fashion, creating an entire stylistic universe that offers "Comfort to the wearer, but discomfort to the beholder".

All the times that Rei Kawakubo has changed the perspective of the fashion industry.

It is truly amazing what Kei Kawakubo has managed to do during her career as CEO and designer of Comme des Garçons.

Since founding the brand in 1969, she has remained true to her stylistic, territorial, and legal roots in an era when fashion houses feverishly move from one designer to another or yearn for multi-million-dollar acquisitions by global industry giants.

To call Kawakubo “simply” a revolutionary would be a gross understatement: she has literally single-handedly rewritten the meaning of the avant-garde in fashion, creating an entire stylistic universe that offers “Comfort to the wearer, but discomfort to the beholder”, as she has defined it.

The creations of Comme des Garçons have inspired everyone from Karl Lagerfeld to Marc Jacobs, from Gosha Rubchsinskiy to Tao Kurihara, from Junya Watanbe to Jacquemus: entire generations of designers who have worshipped the shy and reserved visionary genius who almost hides behind the high-sounding name of her brand, Rei Kawakubo.

In this little journey, we immerse ourselves in the alchemy of Kawakubo‘s obscure work to discover all the firsts that belong to her, and that have defined her as one of the world’s most innovative designers.

She introduced the non-Binary aesthetic.

For the 1995 Spring Summer collection, well ahead of its time, COMME des GARÇONS presented a new sartorial collection of “Gender Androgyny”, sparking the most heated criticism due to the apparent asexuality of the models on the catwalk.

This paved the way for no-gender in haute couture.

She designed the ‘Unfinished’ clothes.

Rei Kawakubo inaugurated the narrative of deconstructivism back in 1986, about a decade before Martin Margiela, considered the deconstructivity fashion designer par excellence.

The collection that started the “deconstructivism anti-fashion” concept was the COMME des GARÇONS Spring Summer 1992 SS92: a combination of illusion, ornament, spectacle, and stylistic genius. On that occasion the designer declared to Vogue Japan:

“I wanted to go back to the beginning and show that the finished product is no longer what matters. When clothes are in the middle of construction, there is always the question of what comes next’.

She transformed Grunge from anti-fashion to hyper-fashion

Six months after Perry Ellis‘ iconic grunge collection that cost Marc Jacobs his dismissal from the American brand, Kawakubo quickly responded with his own vision.

The CdG Fall 1993 show was a riot of flannel, transparencies, and surreal overlays: a collection that consolidated Kawakubo as an icon of the deconstructivist aesthetic, who can do anything, even revisit a style seemingly far removed from his own, such as grunge, and still be credible.

She invented the monochrome outfit.

With the 1982 ‘Destroy’ collection, COMME des GARÇONS inaugurated the eternal season of the total black look, radically changing fashion.

Prior to that, single-coloured outfits had clearly been created, but the first entirely monochrome black collection is a record that belongs only to Rei Kawakubo.

The Destroy collection shook the fashion world to its core and established the Japanese designer as an absolute pioneer, so much so that the French press called her and her collection ‘Hiroshima chic’: a kind of atomic bomb that shook the fashion industry in an elegant way.

Since then, the brand has often reintroduced the anti-colour in its collections, constantly working to re-imagine black in new contexts, transforming it in ever different ways.

She paved the way for hyper-voluminous silhouettes.

For the 1981 Autumn/Winter collection, Kawakubo imagined over-size proportions, balloon silhouettes, extra voluminous sleeves that wrapped around the body, gently caressing it.

COMME des GARÇONS’ radical and often unsettling vision of avant-garde fashion has always co-opted unusual proportions, deconstructionist techniques and extremely daring silhouettes that have inspired – and continue to do so – entire generations of designers.

 

It opened the first pop-up store in history.

The pop-up store cannot be considered a temporary fashion trend, but a real marketing phenomenon now ingrained in modern culture and adopted by all.

If you are wondering where the temporary shop came from, the answer is – ça va sans dire –

In 2004, Rei Kawakubo opened the first Pop Up store in history in Berlin, with the intention of launching a guerrilla marketing campaign that would make an impact and get people talking.

The designer’s idea was to temporarily open several stores in decentralised and still little-known areas of the German capital, in which she would sell collections from past seasons – as well as new ones, in a sort of ante-litteram outlet.

That same year, CdG opened the first location of Dover Street Market, the muti-brand store that in turn transformed the very concept of retail.

CdG changed the Vintage market

Comme des Garçons creations unite past, present, and future together.

Being timeless, the garments can be 10 or 20 years old and still be perfectly current: this peculiarity has triggered a continuous demand from the market, with no distinction between past and current collections, resulting in a continuous trade of the brand, even when vintage fashion was not even contemplated.

She paraded Jean-Micheal Basquiat.

Kawakubo was so fascinated by Basquiat‘s ability to convey and make his artistic personality stand out through the clothes he wore that she asked the American writer and painter to model for her Spring/Summer 1987 collection.

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