Rei Kawakubo is the Japanese fashion designer who founded Comme des Garçons. For this week’s edition of the Designer Crochet Project, let’s see if there’s any crochet in this slice of fashion history!
About Rei Kawakubo
Heading to my go to resource (the book 50 Fashion Designers You Should Know) I learned that “in the 1980s, this Japanese designer turned the Western ideal of beauty on its head”. The author goes on to explain about Kawakubo that “her fashion stands for the intellectual constructivism and experimental silhouettes, consciously distancing itself from classical styling”.
Basically, although the self-taught designer began working in art and fashion in the 1960s and established Comme des Garçons in 1972 (opening her first Tokyo flagship store three years later) it was in the 1980s that she got global attention. In 1981 she hit the Paris runways and her presentations defied the stereotypes about what beauty should look like. The fashion press berated her but of course quickly followed suit with disheveled, unconventional looks of their own!
One of the things that I personally admire about this fashion designer is that she is really committed to fashion as art. She was known at the time for a minimalist neutral color palette and an approach to design that considered fashion to be part of a total concept, rather than just a single material item. She has always been very involved in the design and architecture of her storefronts and other aspects of the fashion business like graphic design for her label. Her college degrees are in art and literature and she did work on several publications in the 1990s in addition to her own work as a designer. Her stores have often featured photography, sculpture and other artwork and she herself has received recognition and awards from the arts community.
Kawakubo gave up control of Comme des Garçons in 1992 but she hasn’t stopped designing. In 2008 she did collections for Louis Vuitton and H&M. She and her husband do still own the Comme des Garçons brand.
About Comme des Garçons
This white crochet-embellished Comme des Garçons dress was designed under the direction of Junya Watanabe
Rei Kawakubo was synonymous with her brand for most of its early life and remains an important part of the business today. An Interview Magazine article about her and Comme des Garçons says:
“By turns conservative (think black-and-white) and radical (think asymmetry and unfinished), Comme des Garçons became the preferred label of the avant-garde and the highly independent. But it never settled into a set style, and as black gave way to color, near normality would sometimes disguise subtle subversions.”
The fashion house, which continues to produce new lines today, has also provided a launching pad for a few other great fashion designers including Junya Watanabe, Tao Kurihara and Ganryu. This is important because it shows how Rei Kawakubo has used her own experience and success to help support the careers of others in the business.
Comme des Garçons has a flagship store in Tokyo and a strong presence in Paris (you’ll see the brand at Paris Fashion Week every season) but there are also stores located around the world including a new market store that opened in Ginza (Tokyo) and a pocket store that opened in Australia, both in 2012.
Fun fact: Comme des Garçons translates to “like the boys” (or “like some boys” as I’ve also seen it translated).
Here is what I was able to find in Comme des Garçons crochet:
2012 crochet sweaters featured at Dover Street Market
This is a vintage jacket from Comme des Garçons that looks to me to be crocheted
Araks shared these designer crochet sweaters from 2012 that were available through Barney’s
Absinthrill highlighted this crochet T-shirt from the brand in 2011
La Croso Como Journal said that these 2012 Comme des Garçons crochet tops were for museum display only
Comme des Garçons crochet socks paired with an Issey Miyake designer coat