Comme des Garçons

Paulene L.

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Articles on Comme des Garçons

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Transcending gender and social norms within the fashion industry is not an easy task. It has been decades of continuous mission for various brands and designers to pave a new path that would deem the extraordinary, common; and the unusual, beautiful. They may be taken for granted nowadays, but modern fashion is blessed with a more liberal perception and a more complex perspective of fashion thanks to those who fearlessly broke the stereotypes and conventional notions. And when it comes to bravely expressive and influential designers and brands that transformed the whole fashion industry, Rei Kawakubo and her brand, Comme des Garçons, are undeniably always on top of the list.

The speedy growth

Comme des Garçons - Rei Kawakubo
Rei Kawakubo. Credit: Fabien Baron

Comme des Garçons can never be discussed without mentioning first the brilliance of its founder, the fashion genius, Rei Kawakubo. Kawakubo launched the brand in Tokyo back in 1969, where it easily became a sensation when the 70s arrived. By 1978, a menswear line was launched by the brand, and come 1981, Comme des Garçons already got to debut at a fashion show in Paris. This uphill journey happened in just over a decade, attributed to the punk style of clothes that people were immediately drawn to.

The growth of the brand continued progressively, releasing one subsidiary line to another, the label ensured that quality isn’t lost in all the quantity they were making. The brand expanded into a global label, carrying:

Many products from these lines are handmade and produced from Japan, although there are many Comme des Garçons factories all over the world, including Turkey, Spain, and France.

The Ultimate Designer’s Designer

Nobody can ever contest Kawakubo’s uniqueness and ingenuity as a designer. Often, other high-end designers get their inspiration from her and her label, too. A great example of this is Marc Jacobs, who, when accused with stealing ideas from Kawakubo for his collection just simply said what is obvious in the fashion world: every designer is influenced by Comme des Garçons—from Jil Sander, to Miuccia Prada.

We recall some of the eye and ear-catching collections of the brand, including Transcending Gender, MONSTER, Not Making Clothing, and Bad Taste—all of which exude the beautiful and unapologetic angry designs of the brand. Through these standout pieces and collections, Comme des Garçons soon became an iconic label, known to be celebrated as fabulously as its designer is celebrated.

The dramatic transformation that Kawakubo brought into the fashion world wasn’t left unnoticed by the top designers and the icons in the industry. A testament to this is the Met Gala’s tribute to Kawakubo, who was honored through the Met’s Costume Institute’s exhibition showing the avant-garde style incorporated in the proportion, references, and techniques in Kawakubo’s designs. It was a proper homage to someone who challenges the norms in fashion and pushed the boundaries so that a wider creative perspective is applied to fasfhion pieces of all kinds.

 “Like some boys”

COMME des Garcons

If you are thinking where the name Comme des Garçons came from, you might be a bit disappointed to know that it doesn’t have a deep-rooted meaning. It was a phrase that Kawakubo liked, but didn’t really connect with her personally. She also isn’t one to name a brand after herself, so she settled with “Comme des Garçons”, which means like some boys.

While choosing the name for the brand wasn’t a touchy story like the others, it was a name that resounded with authority, style and design, proven 30 years later that it became a full empire that Kawakubo was able to establish. But amazingly, despite Kawakubo’s long stay and prominence in the fashion industry, she isn’t immersed in what’s happening within—she still has a unique design process that is never influenced by what’s the current trend. She claims she is inspired by nothing and there is no theme to initially direct her design steps.

Playful and outstanding collections

COMME des Garcons Playful Fashion

Despite the interest and intrigues surrounding the different names of the brand’s collections, Kawakubo just simply explains that she would rather have unnamed collections, yet she gives them for the sake of journalists whom she said are fond of titles.

Aside from the earlier mentioned interesting collection names, one that really sets itself part is SS97’s Body Meets Dress–Dress Meets Body, a “perfect” collection that can never be imitated with justice. The collection was filled with warping effects through gingham prints and foam protuberances. The alluring design led to another collection with that same inspiration: Lumps and Bumps. This collection added bigger bulks and balls in the clothing, which means more interesting silhouettes.

The brand isn’t limited to clothing—they have a fragrance line that brings in over 200 million of revenues per year. It started in 1998, when the Odeur 53, an ‘anti-perfume’, was released and created a buzz because of its unusual scent of a mixture of burnt rubber, nail polish, and oxygen. Afterwards, Comme des Garçons teamed up with another brand, Puig, to release new scents called Wonderwood, Amazing Green, and Play, all containing scents that are desirable but with a tinge of weirdness, which is consistent with the ethos of Kawakubo and her brand.

Famous collaborations and A-list fans

Katy Perry attends the 'Rei Kawakubo or Comme des Garcons - Art Of The In-Between' Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art
Katy Perry attends the ‘Rei Kawakubo or Comme des Garcons – Art Of The In-Between’ Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art. Credit: Ovidiu Hrubaru

Designers that have worked with Kawakubo for years, Junya Watanabe and Tao Kurihara, now each have their Comme des Garçons sub-label. They have been involved in designing some pieces of the brand, including that of Comme des Garçons Tricot, containing all knitwear for women.

Other partnerships involved other well-known nd respected brands, especially as Kawakubo is an expert when it comes to collaborating with other labels. Some of them are the following:

All these have been great successes, therefore, introducing the brand into different group types of consumers until it has expanded its market. Some other brands that have partnered with Comme des Garçons are Louis Vuitton, Lacoste, Speedo, S. N. S. Herning, Fred Perry, Supreme, Moncler, Nike, Chrome Hearts, Cutler and Gross, Hammerthor, H&M, and many others.

For its prominence among the A-list and known people, a long list of iconic and famous stars have been wowed by the pieces of the brand, just like Krikor Jabotian, Tilda Swinton, Kanye West, Tatiana Sorokko, Lady Gaga, Heidi Albertsen, Karl Lagerfeld, ASAP Rocky, Ellen DeGeneres, Selma Blair, Alexander McQueen, and many, many others.

For the status that Kawakubo has achieved for herself and her brand, it isn’t a wonder that many other designers and artists look up to her and Comme des Garçons for inspiration. After all, it was just the brand that flourished because of her, but the entire fashion community and industry.

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