About

Rei Kawakubo is a Japanese fashion designer, founder of Comme des Garçons.

She is untrained as a fashion designer, but studied fine arts and literature at Tokyo's prestigious Keio University. 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 Garçons Co. Ltd in Tokyo and opened up her first boutique in Tokyo in 1975. Starting out with women's clothes, Kawakubo added a men's line in 1978. Three years later, she started presenting her fashion lines in Paris each season, opening up a boutique in Paris in 1982.

Rei likes to have input in all the various aspects of her business, rather than just focussing on clothes and accessories. She is greatly involved in graphic design, advertising and shop interiors believing that all these things are a part of one vision and are inextricably linked. Her Aoyama, Tokyo store is known for its sloping glass facade decorated with blue dots. This was designed in collaboration between Rei and architect Future Systems and interior designer Takao Kawasaki. Rei published her own bi-annual magazine, 'Six' (standing for 'sixth sense'), in the early 1990s. It featured very little text and consisted mainly for photographs and images that she deemed inspiring. In 1996 Rei was guest editor of the high art publication Visionaire.

Rei is known to be quite reclusive and media shy, preferring her innovative creations to speak for themselves. Her designs have inspired many other late designers like the Belgian Martin Margiela and Ann Demeulemeester, as well as Austrian designer Helmut Lang.

Junya Watanabe, Kawakubo's former apprentice, started his own line in the early 1990s and has attained much attention in the fashion business in his own right.

Kawakubo is a member of the Chambre Syndicale du Pret-a-Porter.

Kawakubo created the 2008 autumn "guest designer" collection at H&M, designing men's and women's clothing along with some children's and a unisex perfume.

The Look

Comme des Garçons specialises in anti-fashion, austere, sometimes deconstructed garments. During the 1980s, her garments were primarily in black, dark grey or white. The materials were often draped around the body and featured frayed, unfinished edges along with holes and a general asymmetrical shape. Challenging the established notions of beauty she created an uproar at her debut Paris fashion show where journalists labeled her clothes 'Hiroshima chic' amongst other things. Since the late 1980s her colour palette has grown somewhat.

Who Wears It

Katie Holmes, Debbie Harry, Ashley Olsen

Perfumes

1994 Comme des Garsons (U)
1998 Comme des Garcons White (W)
1998 Odeur 53 (U)
1999 Comme des Garsons 2 (U)
2000 Odeur 71 (U)
2000 Comme des Garcons Series 1 Leaves: Mint (U)
2000 Comme des Garcons Series 1 Leaves: Calamus (U)
2000 Comme des Garcons Series 1 Leaves: Lily (U)
2000 Comme des Garcons Series 1 Leaves: Shisho (U)
2000 Comme des Garcons Series 1 Leaves: Tea (U)
2001 Comme des Garcons Series 2 Red: Carnation (U)
2001 Comme des Garcons Series 2 Red: Harissa (U)
2001 Comme des Garcons Series 2 Red: Palisander (M)
2001 Comme des Garcons Series 2 Red: Rose (M)
2001 Comme des Garcons Series 2 Red: Sequoia (U)
2001 Comme des Garcons Series 3 Incense: Avignon (U)
2001 Comme des Garcons Series 3 Incense: Jaisalmer (U)
2001 Comme des Garcons Series 3 Incense: Kyoto (U)
2001 Comme des Garcons Series 3 Incense: Ouarzazate (U)
2001 Comme des Garcons Series 3 Incense: Zagorsk (U)
2002 Comme des Garcons Series 4 Cologne : Citrico (U)
2002 Comme des Garcons Series 4 Cologne : Anbar (U)
2002 Comme Des Garcons Series 4 Cologne : Vettiveru (U)
2002 Comme des Garcons 3 (U)
2003 Comme des Garcons Series 5 Sherbet: Cinnamon (U)
2003 Comme des Garcons Series 5 Sherbet: Peppermint (U)
2003 Comme des Garcons Series 5 Sherbet: Rhubarb (U)
2004 Comme des Garcons Series 6 Synthetic: Dry Clean (U)
2004 Comme des Garcons Series 6 Synthetic: Garage (U)
2004 Comme des Garcons Series 6 Synthetic: Skai (U)
2004 Comme des Garcons Series 6 Synthetic: Soda (U)
2004 Comme des Garcons Series 6 Synthetic: Tar (U)
2004 Comme des Garcons 2 Man (M)
2004 Comme des Garcons 2 Flower Power (W)
2005 Comme des Garçons 2 Love Hurts (U)
2005 Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet: Burnt Sugar (U)
2005 Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet: Nomad Tea (U)
2005 Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet: Spicy Cocoa (U)
2005 Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet: Sticky Cake (U)
2005 Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet: Wood Coffee (U)
2005 Comme des Garcons Happy Pillow (U)
2006 Pearly Monster (W)
2006 Comme des Garcons Series 8 Guerrilla: Guerrilla 1 (U)
2006 Comme des Garcons Series 8 Guerrilla: Guerrilla 2 (U)
2007 Comme des Garcons Series Luxe: Champaca (U)
2007 Comme des Garcons Series Luxe: Patchouli (U)
2007 Comme des Garcons 2 Bijou (W)
2007 Comme des Garcons Play (U)
2008 Comme des Garcons 2 Silver Words (U)
2008 8 88 (U)
2008 Energy C Grapefruit (U)
2008 Energy C Lemon (U)
2008 Energy C Lime (U)
2008 H&M (U)
2008 Hinoki (M)
2009 Daphne (W)
2009 Dover Street Market (U)
2009 Glitter (U)
2009 Standard (U)
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