When we think of Comme des Garçons, the first thing that pops into our minds is the iconic heart-shaped logo in one of its clothing line: Comme des Garçons Play. But if that’s the only thing you know about the brand, you’re missing out on the interesting stories behind this enormously successful fashion label.
The legacy of Comme des Garçons began in 1969, when it was founded by Rei Kawakubo. Despite the fact that the brand was founded in Tokyo, its name was borrowed from a song recorded seven years prior to its inception — ‘All the Boys and Girls’, written by French recording artist Francoise Hardy. Meaning ‘like some boys’ in French, the label has focused on the blurring of gender norms even long before androgynous fashion came in the limelight in the sartorial world.
#1 Kawakubo, the founder of Comme des Garçons, didn’t graduate from a fashion school
After graduated from fine arts & literature from Keio University, Kawakubo actually started off her job in the advertising department of a textile company. Later on, she found her passion in fashion and gradually entered the industry as a freelance stylist. Despite without any proper training for a fashion designer career, passion took Kawakubo far, as she is now the celebrated founder and creative director of Comme des Garçons.
#2 Kawakubo doesn’t make clothes — she makes works of art
Notoriously known for her imaginative and entirely out-of-the-box approach, the Japanese designer has always let her abstract designs speak for themselves. When it comes to her collections, she doesn’t come up with alternative silhouettes — instead, she completely reconstructs the way we interpret clothes, resulting in avant-garde creations that exist somewhere between fine art and clothing.
#2 Comme des Garçons is the first Japanese fashion label to present at Paris Fashion Show
For decades, Kawakubo’s pioneering spirit and unique creations have endured, leading the brand to achieve its coveted status over time. Back in 1981, Comme des Garçons’ first fashion show was held in Paris, and that was how the Japanese designer became recognised internationally. This also marks the first Japanese brand in Paris Fashion Show.
#4 Comme des Garçons’s first collection was somehow controversial and called “the black crows”
With its exaggerated silhouettes and usual dark colour palettes, many newspapers and magazines called Comme des Garçons ‘the black crows’. As Kawakubo tries to challenge the fashion industry, she tends to not showcase wearable pieces in her runway shows. Instead, she reimagines them with her innovation and endless creativity. Although it was highly controversial at first, the brand was later perceived as uncompromising modernist yet simultaneously alluring.
#5 Kawakubo is only the second living designer featured with an exhibit at the Met Gala
In 2017, the label was featured at the Met Gala, with a wildly fascinating exhibition that resembles the fashion house itself. Titled Art of the In-Between, it was only the second time in the event’s history, after Yves Saint Laurent in 1983, where a living designer was featured. With more than 150 couture creations on display, the exhibition revealed the house’s extraordinary journey across the past decades, from the founder’s path and philosophy in fashion, to the broader context of her definition in art and culture.
(All images: Comme des Garçons)
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok.