Rei Kawakubo Revealed (Sort Of)

by MR Magazine Staff

Early one morning, in the beginning of April, just as the cherry blossoms came into full bloom in Tokyo, 100-odd people gathered at the entrance to an anonymous office building in Aoyama, an elegant and sedate neighborhood known for its designer stores and expensive French restaurants. Unlike the building’s facade (squat, brick, unremarkable) or its interior (empty, beige, somehow even more unremarkable), the people making their way inside were, like the pink petals feathering the city’s sidewalks, impossible to ignore. Some looked like religious fundamentalists or figures from 16th-century portraits, others like extras from “La Strada.” They nodded and held doors open for one another, but remained quiet and unsmiling. Four times a year, Comme des Garçons, the avant-garde Japanese fashion label founded by Rei Kawakubo in 1969, puts on runway shows exclusively for its own employees — the receptionists and store managers and H.R. associates — people with no business flying to Paris for fashion week but who, according to the rigorous standards set by their employer, must be intimately familiar with all aspects of the aesthetic order to which they have dedicated their lives. Elevated plywood catwalks, edged with neat rows of plastic folding chairs, were erected in gray-carpeted conference rooms; the fluorescent lights flickered. There, models in full hair and makeup paraded the season’s designs thousands of miles away from and many months past the French fashion schedule. Read more at The New York Times.