Rei Kawakubo and Comme des Garçons: then and now

Rei Kawakubo doesn’t design clothes, she never did. She’s always looked beyond what people might need or even desire from a fashion brand because fashion is about products, it is about trends. There is a huge distinction between clothes and fashion and Rei Kawakubo’s creations don’t fit in any of these two categories. Nowadays it is becoming uncomfortable and out-of-fashion to talk strictly about trends and Rei Kawakubo has been a pioneer, in this sense: a reflection on the body that goes beyond its limits, a new vision on contemporary aesthetics that has influenced two generations of designers.

Iconoclast and revolutionary, Rei Kawakubo designed Comme des Garçons in her own image, according to her personal and free way of thinking. From Tokyo to Paris, the designer has been part of the so called “post-atomic” fashion revolution, alongside Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake. Deconstruction is the keyword of this movement, not only in terms of cuts and asymmetrical lines, but it was, and somehow it still is, a deconstruction of rules and regulations. Going against the system was the mission of Kawakubo and her Japanese colleagues.

Her collections challenge the body, the relationship between the environment and the garments and a reconsideration of how they are perceived. She is able to manipulate shapes and inspirations to build up new styles. Punk-inspired looks walked the Fall 2016 runway (photo on the right) with outsized and hyper-futuristic dresses. More haute-couture than pret-à-porter, her latest collection, Fall 2017 (photo on the left), was a theatrical and conceptual journey called “The future of silhouette”.

Rei Kawakubo believes in the power of dressing. A dress can say something unveiled we keep inside because of social constructions or it can add strenght and a combactive passion to the one who wears it. The Fall 2016 collection (photo on the right) for Comme des Carçons Homme Plus depicted “the army of peace”: modern armours for contemporary men, flowery details on deconstructed suits.

For the Spring 2017 (photo on the left) instead, the designer considered the state of fashion and she made it with the help of the Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, a literary topos she used to make an aesthetic statement and to remark the ideaological distance between clothing and fashion.