Rei Kawabuko, Artist & Visionary
Most of us know Rei Kawakubo as the elusive creative force behind the Tokyo- originating label Comme des Garçons. But her creativity and vision go far beyond fashion.
Through a diverse portfolio of work, spanning just short of four decades, Kawakubo has positioned herself not only as one of the top three Japanese designers of our time, situated right up there with Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto, but also a true artist and visionary.
Her work, which is raw, ambitious, at times bizarre, but totally wearable, was not too long ago displayed in a solo exhibition at the Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art, appropriately named ReFusing Fashion. Consequently, a beautifully comprised book of the same name was recently published based on the exhibit.
Upon taking a look at the career of Kawakubo, it’s no real surprise that this retrospective was put together. Her work over the years has been a catalyst in changing the way we look at clothing; melding the worlds of fashion, history, and culture in a way that brings forth a truly unique perspective. From a dress with four arm holes created in 1979 and a jacket with four sleeves: two regular, two kimono from 2003 to motorcycle jackets shaped like baseball gloves and a cape that was meant to look like an Amish quilt, it is obvious that her work has pushed boundaries and altered commonly accepted beliefs and ideas; making her a nothing less than a true artist.
ReFusing Fashion highlights forty stand-out garments, costume creations from her collaboration with dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham, photos from the Detroit exhibition as well as from past runway shows, and various epherema-like materials; advertisements, clippings, written thoughts, and recorded ideas. The book is narrated with essays by Harold Koda, curator in charge at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, architect Sylvia Lavin, Judith Thurman, writer for the New Yorker, and art historian Michael Stone-Richards.