12th October 2015, Fashion & Textiles, Everyday Shapes & Structure. Rei Kawakubo.

Comprising of a series of garments that had been intentionally 'destroyed', Rei's unique vision was extremely divisive, earning her as many critics as it did admirers. Black maxi skirts were teamed with moth-eaten knitwear, the fine shreds of the material left to hang loose and flow as the models walked the runway. There was also little in the way of structure - at a time when fashion was obsessed with tight, figure-hugging dresses, Kawakubo's oversized jackets and heavy swathes of fabric were specifically designed to cover the body.


Taken from Dazed & Confused issue 16, 1995.

Kawakubo's international label Comme des Garçons, formed in Tokyo in 1973, is notably famous for setting the monochromatic style and changing the face of fashion in the early 80s. With "as never seen before" silhouettes – shapeless shapes for her simplistic tent-like shrouds poised in black austerity, her clothes are never about accentuating or revealing the body, but allowing the wearer to be who they are.

Kawakubo has always de-prettified the models who have stomped down the catwalk in a sombre wake, wearing clothes which initially had to be explained to customers on how they should be worn. The notorious black T-shirt, for example, which appeared to have four sleeves when placed flat, yet turned into a chic double tunic when worn. Comme des Garçons' hand-knit sweaters full of holes came close to punk, and appeared anarchistic at the time of 80s retentive power-dressing. She sees fashion as art, and designs sculpturally, considering the fabric first. Her minimalist, asymmetric clothes are the epitome of deconstructionalism (seams raw-edged, incompatible fabrics bonded together), inspiring a host of European designers, most notably John Galliano, Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester.

© Harriet Grace Abbott, all rights reserved