Rei Kawakubo

(b. 1942)

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(1942– )

Tokyo‐born Rei Kawakubo is the inspiration behind the internationally recognized Comme des Garçons fashion name. After graduating in 1964 in fine arts and literature at Keio University in Tokyo she worked in the public relations department of the Asahi Chemical Industry textiles and chemicals company. She became a freelance stylist in 1967, building on her earlier fine art experience and work with art directors and others at Asahi. Kawakubo's Comme des Garçons Company was formally established in Tokyo in 1973, although she had been working under the name since 1969. She began working in women's wear and later, in 1978, menswear. In 1980 Kawakubo moved to Paris, opening her first boutique. Her first store had opened in Tokyo in 1976, her outlets growing rapidly to more than 300 by the late 1980s, more than 70 of them from outside Japan. Store design has been an important part of the overall ethos of the Comme des Garçons brand. Characterized by white and minimalist interiors, the company's retail outlets were designed by Kawakubo and Japanese architect Takao Kawasaki. Kawakubo's clothing has often been seen to embody notions of anti‐fashion, often asymmetrical in appearance, using folds and pleats, exposed stitching, together with the incorporation of ‘found’ materials and the use of contrasting textures and fabrics. She was awarded the Mainichi Design Prize in 1983 and 1987 and received the Veuve Cliquot Businesswoman of the Year award in 1991.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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