THANK YOU REI KAWAKUBO. She will always be in my personal top 3 designers of all time, and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that. CDG is a brand that has remained influential since its conception. But, what and how has it continued to persist all these years and remain a staple in the fashion industry.
From the it’s conception in 1967, CDG had been always been blurring the lines between art and fashion. In the late 60s and early 70s, Japanese women’s fashion was blending the lines between fashion of the East and West. Skirts, blouses, and dresses were very popular among women and they combined their fashion with the “hippy-flower” movement that was occurring in Europe and America. The women’s look at the time was heavily reliant on colorful and well put together pieces. Rei was never a fan of the “girly” look and sought to tear it down and redefine women’s fashion, thus the name “Comme des Garcons” meaning “like boys”. This is one of they key reasons Comme Des Garcons was such a revolutionary thing in fashion from the start. It sought to be different and change the way a very traditional and conservative society viewed women and how they could dress. She was not very inspired by Western clothing and definitions of attractiveness and fashion, rather, she designed clothes for women who did not dress to impress. This is one of the reasons CDG is one of the most important brands in fashion history. The brand helped break down gender stereotypes and build a new ideology that anybody can dress however they desire.
From the early runways until now, CDG has always shook critics, with the gothic inspired colors and design, to the distressed and torn up look that is a reoccurring design in many of its collections. After its inclusion of its new “homme” line, CDG was now a brand that was for every body. CDG has not only planted major steps in the advancement of fashion in the past, but it also continues to thrive today and stay relevant with fresh, unique, and new designs. While the world was oversaturated with the glitzy and feminine looks that European and American brands were giving off, CDG breathed fresh air into the industry with its reliance on dark colors like Grey and Black, as well as outlandish and wild patterns and inspirations that they continue to incorporate into the clothes that are still being released today. Matthew Schneier, a fashion analyst, summed up very nicely what CDG’s image is all about at a recent display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
“Ms. Kawakubo’s clothing dispenses with traditional forms of flattery and can be deconstructed, raw-edged, tattered, hole-pocked, bulbous or odd. It is not for the faint of heart, and her work has regularly confounded as many people as it has delighted. But those who wear it, worship it”.
Personally, one of the many things that makes CDG so great is the brands ability to adapt and change to how the community feels towards fashion. The brand can give that credit to Rei’s uncanny ability to spot trends as their rising. An example of this is the shift from high fashion, to streetwear becoming the popular attire. The rise of streetwear occurred thanks to the California lifestyle and brands, and it offered an alternate way to dress rather than wearing high fashion runway clothing around all the time, a trend that’s still alive and well to this day. It was around this trends emergence that Rei introduced her new line of clothes called Comme Des Garcons PLAY. The new line offered a whole variety of grunge and black inspired shirts, bags, and shoes that could be more casually worn then things you would see on the runway. This is one of the lines that, to me, signified and planted CDG’s eternal position in the fashion and new streetwear industry. It is evident through many other lines CDG has introduced through the years that Rei has an unmatched ability to know how to captivate the people. They have always managed to rebrand their image and yet stay true to themselves.
Of course, for a brand as massive and as influential as CDG, they are bound to draw interest from other fellow fashion companies. This has lead to a series of timeless and classic collaborations of the years. These collaborations with designers and brand include, streetwear and skating apparel giant, Supreme, Junya Watanabe, Nike, Yohiji Yamamoto a childhood friend of Rei’s, and Dover Street Market (A well known fashion sales boutique). What makes these collaborations so important to the image and traditions of CDG is the ability for them to deliver a good set of pieces every time they happen. One example of this is from CDG’s recent collaboration with two brand giants Nike and Supreme. People that know CDG know that they are no strangers to the idea of incorporating strange patterns and designs in their pieces, which is why the shoe and collection of clothing they released with these two brands was so well received. From Bruce Kilgore, a well known modernist artist, inspired patterns to the crumpled logo looks that were featured on other clothes in this collaboration, it was very well loved and received by the fashion and streetwear community. This was just one of the many examples of what makes CDG so great and unique; their ability to change and be daring with collaborations and yet stay true to themselves. Collaborations like this and many others will surely continue to open doors for the brand to continue to grow, innovate, and bring out the best in themselves.
Writer for @90centre