Kawakubo, Rei

Kawakubo, Rei, 1942–, Japanese fashion designer, b. Tokyo. After working for a textile manufacturer, she became (1967) a freelance stylist, founded (1969) the fashion label Comme des Garçons, and opened (1975) her first boutique, in Tokyo. Kawakubo introduced a menswear line in 1978, and later opened boutiques in Paris, London, New York, and other cities; she relocated her headquarters to Paris in 1980. She is known for voluminous, asymetrical, deconstructed garments designed for mobility and comfort, often in gray or black. Her post-1980s collections have generally been more colorful, less functional, more surreal, and often more like abstract art than wearable fashion; some clothes have been filled with holes, others have had strange excrescences, lacked sleeves, or been constructed of unusual materials. Kawakubo also created costumes for the avant-garde choreographer Merce Cunningham, e.g., for his Scenario (1997), and was an early “pop-up” store retailer.

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