Rei Kawakubo is all for the new masculine - after ages of the society trying to push both women and men into various gender norms and numerous standards, Comme des Garçons shows up as a safe harbour for everyone wanting to express their identity in an alternative way. Kawakubo redefines what it means to be a man in a society and shows that there is a different path out there to follow through her silhouettes. Making masculinity accessible for women, she opposes the big male names of European fashion design and shows what it means to be a woman through a woman’s lens.
The idea of creating a label came to Rei Kawakubo around the 60s, when she had graduated from an art department at Keio University in Tokyo. 1981 was the year of launching the first ever CdG runway show in Paris. Soaked with minimalism, omnipresent black and lack of defined shape, the collection was a synthesis of Japanese values and legacy. Having met with critics’ disapproval for the ‘overuse of black’ in the collection, Kawakubo took it as an opportunity to break out with her vision for presenting masculine designs that she wanted to pursue further.
Rei Kawakubo’s garments have been serving as a shield for the ones wearing them, keeping them safe from the world and others. Instead of embracing feminine traits in women’s collections, emphasising female curves and using ethereal tulle and sheer materials, Kawakubo alters the female silhouette, molding it into a form that looses its original shape and becomes more male-presenting with wide shoulders, less hip accentuation and abstract fabric draping and pinning. Rei Kawakubo to this day stays the leader of a Japanese design in a modern fashion world, standing guard of a gender-neutral silhouettes and vision.
Written by Julia Siechowicz