Artistic passion aside, Rae Kawakubo, the founder and lead-designer of Comme des Garçons, made her entry into the fashion world through her need to be pragmatic. “When I was young, it was just a way of earning a living by doing something I found I could do: making clothes and taking them around the shops to sell them.”
Primarily using her designs to propel her career as a stylist, it wasn’t until 1973 that Kawakubo officially launched Comme des Garçons. Beginning only with a womenswear line, Kawakubo eventually expanded into menswear and accessories.
Since then, the brand has grown into somewhat of a fashion anomaly. While seeing decades of ongoing success (with no signs of decline), Comme des Garçons still manages to hover below the radar. This is likely due to Kawakubo’s refusal to cater to the mainstream. Her designs do not foster trends, nor do they aim to garner mass appeal. Instead, Comme des Garçons embodies a bold aesthetic, one mounted on a medley of textured patterns, asymmetrical cuts and contrasting colours.
If we understand beauty to be that which pleases the eye without instigating critical response, then Comme des Garçons is not beautiful. But as we know, real beauty survives in those things that test our discerning eye, that reveal to us a level of pleasure from that which we would otherwise turn away from. For that reason, Comme des Garçons is beyond beautiful; it is defiant and magnificent, it is bravura.
Needless to say, there are only two kinds of people: those who don’t know about Comme des Garçons, and those who love Comme des Garçons. There is no in between.
Shop Comme des Garçons at Cahier d’Exercices.