Comme des Garcon

Comme des Garcons: Wearable Art


French for like boys, Comme des Garçons is one of Japan’s largest and best known designer fashion labels. Launched by designer Rei Kawakubo in 1973, from the very start the label went against the grain of current fashion, producing surreal, sculptural collections in a sombre colour palette utilising unusual materials and techniques. Comme des Garcons established a reputation for the avant garde, often using unusual and complex cutting and tailoring techniques. Kawakubo’s themes have always merged the fundamentals of traditional Japanese garments ~ their simplicity of colour, style and fabric, with modern design. Inspired by architecture she creates structures in which the body abides ~ constructions in their own space rather than items simply to clothe us.


Kawakubo was born in Tokyo in 1942. Having studied fine arts and literature at Keio University, post graduation she worked at a textile company before taking the then unusual career of freelance stylist in 1967. 


Comme des Garçons was created by Kawakubo in Tokyo in 1969 and established as a company a few years later. Despite the fact that Kawakubo had never had any formal fashion training, Comme des Garçons clothing became hugely successful all round Japan in the 1970s. She became internationally prominent in 1981, after a startling show in Paris in which she featured garments which were ramdomly wrinkled, hemmed, seamed and ruched. Throughout the 1980s, the label’s dismantled approach to fashion became known worldwide. When there were four fashion capitals in the world; London, Paris, Milan and New York, Japanese Comme des Garçons' mantra of monochromatic colours, surreal silhouettes and a mission to turn conventional pattern cutting on its head, broke all the rules. In spite of, or many would say because of, this distinctly different approach to fashion, Kawakubo’s label, along with those of her contemporaries Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto, became hugely popular and highly respected ~ the pieces they designed becoming highly sought after and cherished.

Today, having grown from strength to strength, Comme des Garçons appeals not just to a consumer fashion base but also to industry insiders. Fans of the label include the late Alexander McQueen, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, Karl Lagerfeld and John Waters who devoted a chapter in his 2010 book ‘Role Models’ to Comme des Garçons and Rei Kawakubo. Many celebrities, stars of screen and stage, fashion models and fashion editors covet and wear Comme des Garcons.

Rei Kawakubo is a truly intellectual designer and her conceptual vision has cemented Comme des Garçons' reputation as the thinking dresser's label, with avant-garde silhouettes and ahead-of-their-time designs that should be appreciated as wearable works of art.