There’s been a lot of news surrounding COMME des GARÇONS and Rei Kawakubo, the brilliant mind behind the high-end fashion lines. So let’s take a look at what this hype is all about. Here we share some news about the new COMME des GARÇONS store in Beijing, rare photos of Rei Kawakubo, interview with COMME des GARÇONS mastermind designer Rei Kawakubo, interview with COMME des GARÇONS International’s President and Rei Kawakubo’s husband Adrian Joffe, (gasps for breath) news about a new store possibly opening in Tokyo, and recent updates on the Dover Street Market store in London.
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I.T Beijing Market: The new Dover Street Market in China
For starters, COMME des GARÇONS and Hong Kong’s fashion retail powerhouse and partner of the brand in Asia, I.T, celebrated the grand opening of the brand a new COMME des GARÇONS shop. Much like the Dover Street Market in London, the new store in Beijing is named I.T Beijing Market.
If you don’t know what the Dover Street Market is, it is a conceptual retail space created by COMME des GARÇONS to house a variety of great fashion brands along with the full range of COMME des GARÇONS lines including PLAY, BLACK, SHIRT, TAO, HOMME PLUS, JUNYA WATANABE, etc.. The concept and direction of Dover Street Market is of course done by Rei Kawakubo herself. The new Beijing store opening is great news because until now, it was impossible to find the full range of COMME des GARÇONS lines in one spot besides Dover Street Market London.
“I want to create a kind of market where various creators from various fields gather together and encounter each other in an ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos: the mixing up and coming together of different kindred souls who all share a strong personal vision. We hope to make DSM more and more interesting. I enjoy seeing all the customers coming to DSM dressed in their strong, good looking and individual way. I would like for DSM to be the place where fashion becomes fascinating.” Rei Kawakubo via DSM
However, Beijing Market is a partnership store with I.T so Rei Kuwakubo didn’t get full autonomy and selection of the stores brands and designers. You will find I.T’s staple lines such Nigo’s street wear brand, A Bathing Ape in the basement of the store. It may be wrong to assume, but I doubt Bape was Rei Kuwakubo’s top pick, although Nigo deserves respect in his own right.
You can see more pictures of the I.T Beijing Market here
Rare Pictures of Rei Kawakubo
It is a known fact that Rei Kawakubo doesn’t like her pictures taken, so you won’t find too many of them anywhere. With this in regard considered a rare occasion!
Here’s a picture of her while she was in Bejing for the opening of I.T Beijing Market.
Another one here. She’s so mysterious and cool.
Interview with Comme des Garçons Rei Kawakubo
Sometimes more important than pictures though are interviews where one can make sense of the beauty and enigma that is Rei Kawakubo. Earlier this month WWD interviewed Rei Kawakubo. From “Rei Kawakubo on the Record”
WWD: What do you think of the way people dress here and their style?
R.K.: When I came here 10 years ago there were no people who would wear Comme des Garçons. I was just in the towns and didn’t go to the places where fashionable people gathered, but now it is much more casual. I used to enjoy seeing people wearing communist workers’ clothes and I don’t see that anymore.
WWD: How has the inspiration for your collections changed over the course of your career?
R.K.: Do you think it’s changed? For me it hasn’t changed at all. The way I approach each collection is exactly the same…the motivation has always been to create something new, something that didn’t exist before. The more experience I have and the more clothes I make, the more difficult it becomes to make something new. Once I’ve made something, I don’t want to do it again, so the breadth of possibility is becoming smaller.
WWD: Everyone is talking about how the Japanese market for retail and luxury goods is just terrible right now. Do you think that will change? Do you think there is a way to get consumers excited again?
R.K.: Now, with fast fashion, the value of creation is diminishing, and very expensive things are not interesting.
WWD: Is there any way out of that situation?
R.K.: I always think that I’d like to do something about the situation…it’s a very profound motivation…but I don’t think it’s something that can really be changed. I’m not powerful enough. There’s a closed-mindedness that prevents movement and change. I always think that I’d like to break that, and I’ve used it [this closed-mindedness] as a theme for collections, but I just can’t seem to break it. I want to wake people up, but I don’t think I succeed in doing this as much as I would like to.
WWD: You mentioned fast fashion. That’s been a huge story and obviously you had your collaboration with H&M. Would you consider doing something like that again?
R.K.: That was a special case. They were making a new store in Japan, so it was just a short, two-week relationship. It wasn’t a big thing, but I thought it was interesting because they asked me to do all the advertising and visuals as well. H&M has a very different way of thinking and a different business model, so it was interesting to see how much of a connection we could make. But in the end I realized that there wasn’t very much in common, so I don’t think I’ll do it again.
WWD: Would you consider selling it or listing it on the stock market?
R.K.: I don’t think there’s anyone who would want to buy it. I do everything on my own, so there are very few people who could do it. Do you think there’s anyone who would buy it? [Joffe interjected half-jokingly with a laugh: “We’re waiting for an offer.”]
WWD: How do you come up with a retail concept? Where do you start?
R.K.: Firstly, I want to make a shop that’s unlike any that already exists. And then, since it’s a business, we have to be able to get back the initial investment, whether it’s ours or whether it’s the partner’s, in as short a time as possible. So I don’t like to use expensive materials. I take care to make costs reasonable. It’s very similar to the way I make clothes. I give myself limits, not only financial limits but I also limit my method of expression, and from within those limits I try to come up with something new and interesting.
WWD: Are there any young designers coming up through the ranks you’re keeping your eye on?
R.K.: There are very few. There are few people who, like us, have the values and the way of thinking to really try hard. They lack discipline. And it’s not just fashion, I think…[young people] get satisfied too easily. They’re not strict enough with themselves. They’re too soft on themselves.
Interview with Comme des Garçons Adrian Joffe
Also at the recent opening, Hypebeast spoke with COMME des GARÇONS International’s President and Rei Kawakubo’s husband Adrian Joffe and discussed the “importance of having a coherent identity, the notion of creation, Kawakubo’s fundamental beliefs and the common misconceptions of COMME des GARÇONS and Rei Kawakubo.” The full interview is here.
From “Adrian Joffe: The Idea of COMME des GARÇONS”
Rei Kawakubo’s first collection “Lace” which debuted in Paris, 1981, marked the end of the French Fashion Syndicate’s influence in the fashion industry and began a new era of radical fashion. Did she achieve this by not referencing the old but by creating the new? Or simply the will to work against the fundamental core of the fashion system, which fashion has to be beautiful?
It’s always been the aim of not doing like everybody else or rather searching to make things that didn’t exist before. She basically founded the company on the premise of creation. You can see it like a tree, the roots won’t change but the branches will keep on growing, therefore the fundamental spirit has always stayed the same. Maybe sometimes, her creation is also a reaction to something, so in a way your second question does place into action. I remember about 13 years ago, she visited New York and she saw a lot of black in the GAP stores on every corner and was very astonished as the combination of fast fashion and black was not something she expected. She used mostly Black in ‘81 when the color wasn’t used at all in high fashion, so she was very shocked and said that after 20 years, suddenly everything turned black and gothic. As a reaction to that, she created her next collection “Bumps”, so in some ways it can be true. Sometimes its the reaction against what she sees, experiences and the feeling of shock or anger which can spark off another collection. So I think it’s a mixture of one and two, it has to be a mixture.
Rei Kawakubo has always challenged fashion norms such as fusing masculine and feminine motifs, introducing the distorted shapes and cuts in her silhouettes – specifically straying away from what constitutes the ideal. Design aside how do these values apply and shaped her identity as a brand?
Rei designs everything of the company. Her values permeate everything that constitutes the brand; The clothes, the shops, the printed matter, the way the clothes look in in the shops, the name cards and the retail strategy, all cannot be separated.
Similar to British artist Rachel Whiteread’s negative space sculptures, Rei Kawakubo’s clothing is not about the object but the space around the object. Does she see this as an easier route into designing or the fact that she wants to explore where other designers have overlooked?
First of all, there’s no easy route into designing. Forty two years ago when she first started, it was maybe easier because she had never done anything before. But as time goes by, the breadth of possibilities narrows and the weight of experience becomes heavy. So it’s more and more difficult to stick with the original concept of creating something new. It’s for her own self and trying to do something that she hadn’t done before. She doesn’t really look at other artists or designers’ work, as she isn’t interested in who it is and why it is. She will look at things and images and be moved or not as the case may be but she won’t analyze or define anything. She purely feels and strives for new grounds all the time because that is what she decided to base the company she founded on. She wants to be satisfied, but she’s never satisfied. This is the trouble for her, as she can never relax and she has to live with the dissatisfaction of her own work all the time, because being satisfied for one second might mean it would not be possible to strive any more.
Please make this come true! Another new Comme des Garçons store?!
Although Rei Kawakubo often dislikes being labeled as a Japanese designer, the fact of the matter is Japan is her home country and everyone knows that. As much as she may be a hero to designers and the like all over the world, she is for certain a hero to the people of Japan. So Made with Japan’s like WTF, where’s the love for us? We want a gigantic COMME des GARÇONS in our neighborhood too. Just when all hope was lost, WWD shares some exciting news!
“Coming at the end of this year will be a seven-story, 32,000-square-foot emporium in Tokyo. To be dubbed Ginza Komatsu Market, it will be operated in partnership with department store operator Komatsu in a building whose facade will bear Kawakubo’s iconoclastic design imprint. The product mix will be half Comme des Garçons brands, the rest invited and curated by Kawakubo in collaboration with Komatsu.” via WWD
Updates to the Dover Street Market in London
Often times, a brand will make sacrifices to their original fort while expanding to other countries. But as expected, it looks like this will not be the case for Comme des Garcons. While all of these spectacular expansions to China and now the anticipated Japan store is happening, Dover Street Market in London got a makeover as it introduces a series of new spaces and installations. Amongst the highlights of the decor is a new window installation by Paco Rabanne. In addition, they will be updating its webstore frequently with a strong selection of new goods. Offered at Hypebeast, are more shots of the latest setup from Tachiagari for Spring/Summer 2011 here.
So, how does “Comme des Garçons is going to be busy this year” sound like an understatement to you? We love you Rei Kawakubo and we hope for only the best!
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