Fashion Designers

Kawakubo Rei

(Tokyo, 1942- )

Kawakubo Rei

Comme des Garcons The designer behind the Comme des Garcons label, Kawakubo studied philosophy at the prestigious Keio University in her native Tokyo. She founded her company in 1973 and presented her first show in Paris in 1981. The collection was dubbed 'Hiroshima chic' for its use of dark colors, in particular black, which was not popular at the time. It also refused to obey accepted notions of silhouette and bodyline, with lumps protruding to create dramatic and innovative designs.

Though originally known for her works using a dark palette, she later started to use brighter colors. She said "Black is no longer strong and has become harder to use." Comme des Garcons designs include such elements as a mix of bright and dark colors, whimsically placed or upside-down pockets, de-emphasized shoulders and extra-long sleeves.

Kawakubo won the Mainichi Fashion Grand Prize in 1983 and was honored by the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1987 as one of the leading women in 20th-century design. Her academic background is perhaps behind her rather cerebral approach to design and she has worked with dance groups and wide range of photographers.

A protoge of Kawakubo, Watanabe Junya has also established a name for himself since going it alone in 1994.