Every year for the past 40 years, the fashion world has descended upon the steps of the New York Museum of Metropolitan Art (the “Met”), to celebrate a designer and the opening of an exhibition showcasing his or her complete body of work.
This year the mysterious Japanese designer, Rei Kawakubo and her label Comme des Garcons is the subject of the exhibition, entitled “Art of the Inbetween”.
It makes sense really: The world is in love with all things Japanese at the moment and the famously reclusive Ms Kawakubo represents the ultimate in cutting edge Japanese cool.
10 things you need to know about Comme des Garcons
1. Founded in 1973 Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garcons, when translated into English, means “like some boys”.
2. When Kawakubo first started making clothes, her colour palette was black, white and dark grey, leading the Japanese press to refer to her followers as “The Crows”.
3. Kawakubo was largely unknown in the west until 1981 when she brought her first collection to Paris.
4. Kawakubo now lives between Tokyo and Paris.
5. Although Kawakubo has no formal training as a designer, she studied study fine art and literature at Keio University before going on to work in the advertising department at the textile company. She started her own label soon after that.
6. True aficionados refer to the label simply as “Comme”.
7. Kawakubo is also co-founder of the cult fashion emporium Dover Street Market. The first boutique was in London but branches can now be found in Tokyo, New York and China.
8. Kawakubo is married to South African-born Adrian Joffe who is also president of Comme des Garcons International.
9. After more than 30 years in the business, Kawakubo remains the sole owner of her company that includes boutiques and franchises worldwide. Her company grosses an average of $150 million annually.
10. The signature Comme silhouette is deconstructed, seldom following traditional lines and patterns. Kawakubo charted the course for designers preferring frayed edges to neat seams, asymmetry and bold shapes.