Purple Magazine
— F/W 2012 issue 18

Rei Kawakubo

Purple sequin dress and long gloves COMME DES GARÇONS

an empire of intuition
Comme Des Garçons F/W 2012-13 women’s collection

photographed by PAOLO ROVERSI
interview by OLIVIER ZAHM


OLIVIER ZAHM — Your last collection is a masterpiece and one of the best collections of the F/W 2012 season. What was the starting point?
REI KAWAKUBO — I started with the same desire to make something that didn’t exist before. I had the idea to try to design without designing, using the simplest techniques. I worked on the theme of two dimensions. Often the simplest thing is the hardest but most powerful.

OLIVIER ZAHM — You started your company in 1968. You’ve been working on this for more than 40 years. How is it possible that you keep staying that creative and that you are able to surprise your public each season and even your own fans? What is your secret?
REI KAWAKUBO — It is just a continuous, every day work of always looking for something.

Printed wool and rayon jacket and skirt worn with black cowhide leather shoes COMME DES GARÇONS

OLIVIER ZAHM — In the beginning, your fashion was described as a dark deconstruction of fashion. What sparked the change over the past few years toward a new architecture of clothing and a colorful, even playful aesthetic?
REI KAWAKUBO — There is always evolution, and when black became no longer new, I looked for newer things.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Why are you so discreet as a designer, often refusing interviews and avoiding public appearances and the bow at the end of your show? Since the beginning, you’ve kept this discreet position that no designer has, except Margiela. How did you decide on this position from the very beginning?
REI KAWAKUBO — There was nothing to decide. Comme des Garçons is the work.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Your collection has often been described as quite austere and puritanical. But I always find them quite sensual and feminine, celebrating the mystery of being a woman. Does this sensuality come from a Japanese influence?
REI KAWAKUBO — It is just an accident that I was born in Japan.

OLIVIER ZAHM — In your opinion, what message does a woman send about herself by wearing Comme des Garçons?
REI KAWAKUBO — I am happy when a woman who wears Comme des Garçons feels progressive and forward-looking and gets energy from the clothes.

Pink polyester felt jacket and skirt worn with black cowhide leather shoes COMME DES GARÇONS

OLIVIER ZAHM — How did you come up with the idea of Dover Street Market, a multibrand fashion shop — initially in London, then in Ginza, and tomorrow in New York — under the umbrella of the Comme des Garçons brand?
REI KAWAKUBO — I design the company so that it’s not only clothes, but printed matter and shop interiors and a retail strategy. When it came time to open a new Comme des Garçons shop in London, we had the idea to share a space with other people with a vision in a chaotic, free and synergetic environment, like a market.

OLIVIER ZAHM — How do you choose the locations in general for the Dover Street Market stores or pop-up shops? Do you follow the artist community?
REI KAWAKUBO — We don’t follow anyone. We just try to find the right place at the right time in the right city. It is really an instinctive and accidental process.

OLIVIER ZAHM — When and where will the New York Dover Street Market open? Why did you choose the exact location in New York?
REI KAWAKUBO — We cannot say yet since the lease is not signed. It will be in a totally new area of New York.

OLIVIER ZAHM — How do you choose the architects for your shops?
REI KAWAKUBO — We have not work­ed with architects for some time. I design all the shops now. I work with our construction company which translates all the designs.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Are you personally involved with the selection of designers that are sold at the Dover Street Markets?
REI KAWAKUBO — I leave a lot to the teams, but each new brand is verified by me. I think the strength of Dover Street Market is due to the fact that my eye passes over everything. We like to work with designers who have something to say, a vision of their own.

Printed wool and rayon cloak worn with black cowhide leather shoes COMME DES GARÇONS

OLIVIER ZAHM — Now Comme des Garçons is its own group, including new designers. After Watanabe, you launched Tao and now Ganryu for street fashion. These three names are all former creative collaborators of yours. Is this a way for Comme des Garçons to touch different demographics, ages, and generations, without using the name Comme des Garçons? Or is it a way for you to support young talent? Or is it both?
REI KAWAKUBO — As part of designing the company, I create all kinds of different labels in order to grow the company.  Junya Watanabe and Ganryu are part of this, as is Play, the perfume, the wallets, etc.

OLIVIER ZAHM — You’ve proven over the years that you are a highly creative fashion designer and a visionary business woman. More than that, for us, you are a true artist, using the body as a medium: perfume on skin, silhouettes on body, as well as creating the fashion show as an emotional experience. Did you ever consider doing an exhibition of your art or expressing your creativity outside fashion?
REI KAWAKUBO — Creating art is not my objective. But business also needs creation and something new. Without creation there is no progress.

OLIVIER ZAHM — For the magazine community, your SIX magazine from the ’80s has become a cult reference. Why did you stop doing it?
REI KAWAKUBO — It’s always good to stop something at its height before it becomes thin.

Purple polyester felt jacket and pants worn with black cowhide leather shoes COMME DES GARÇONS

OLIVIER ZAHM — The small publication that you now send to all of the Comme des Garçons contacts to relay brand information always involves an artist. How do you choose them? Are they in some way an inspiration for the collection of the season? How did you choose to work with René Burri?
REI KAWAKUBO — In recent years, I decided to tell a story for the year through the medium of all kinds of different artists, to communicate the values of Comme des Garçons. We have worked with the painter Mondongo, the filmmaker team Brothers Quay, the conceptual artist Ai Weiwei, the graphic artists Assume Vivid Astro Focus and now the photographer René Burri. Through the synergy of their work with mine, and thanks to the total trust they have in me, we are able to express a strong continuous story throughout the year.



Franco Gobbi @ ARTLIST, hair — Adrien Pinault @ MANAGEMENT + ARTISTS using MAC COSMETICS, make-up — Elsa Deslandes @ MAJEURE ET EVENEMENT, manicure — L’ATELIER LUMIERE PARIS, retouching — Christian Bragg, photographer’s assistant — Marta Sara Crescimanno, stylist’s assistant — Anais Pouliot @ ELITE, model

[Table of contents]

F/W 2012 issue 18

Table of contents

purple EDITO

purple NEWS






purple BEAUTY

purple TRAVEL

purple LOVE

purple NAKED

purple PHILO

purple NIGHT

purple WINTER


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