Rei Kawakubo is among the most respected and unconventional designers in contemporary fashion. As the driving force behind Commes des Garçons, she has continually challenged current ideals of body shape, garment construction and use of colour. Refusing to conform to conventional notions of beauty, Kawakubo creates her own statements through radical silhouette and structure. In doing so, she is credited with revolutionising fashion. Born in Tokyo in 1942, she studied literature before working as a stylist, but was never formally trained in fashion design or 'clothes making' as she prefers to call it. Commes des Garçons was founded in 1969 as a way to supplement her income (and a men's line was added in 1978), but it wasn't until 1981 that she sprang to fame with her first Paris presentation. A shock to the West at that time, Kawakubo's approach directly challenged the era's fixation with a commercially-conceived expression of glamour. The 1981 collection was dubbed 'Hiroshima Chic' for its domination of black. Her output is frequently described as 'anti-fashion' or 'art', owing to Kawakubo's conceptual and intellectual rigour, but this cerebral methodology hasn't stopped her building one of the biggest independent fashion empires where she not only enjoys complete artistic freedom, but also significant financial success. Kawakubo's designs continue to inspire younger generations of designers including Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester, while former apprentice Junya Wanatabe's stellar practice burgeons from within the Comme des Garçons domain. Kawakubo opened Dover Street Market, her first London store in October 2004, in which she curates various labels of her own personal choosing, and is currently involved in setting up temporary 'guerilla' stores in various cities around the world.
- '2 Women: Gabrielle Chanel and Rei Kawakubo' Antwerp 2001
- Fashion Institute of Technology, 1987 â€¨Mainichi Fashion Grand Prize, 1983