Some Thoughts From Rei Kawakubo | Forum

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Our “Some Thoughts From” series – an aggregation of thoughts from around the web from our favorite industry insiders – is back. Just in time for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala tonight: Rei Kawakubo. Since launching her label, Comme des Garçons, in 1973, Kawakubo, 74, has established herself as one of fashion's most influential designers.

Known for reimagining fashion and the human form in her own uncompromising way, and for her constant quest for innovation, Kawakubo is being celebrated by way of the Met’s spring 2017 exhibition, entitled, Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between. Here are some of her thoughts on the fashion media, feminism, and being one of the most influential designers in the world …

On clothing: You need to occasionally wear something strong, and that can feel strange. It makes you aware of your existence and can reaffirm your relationship with society. I think people feel a minute current running through them as they come into contact with something made by someone exploring the limits. When you put on clothes that are fighting against something, you can feel your courage grow. Clothing can set you free. – Interview, October 2015

On her end goal: There is no end and no goal. As long as I'm attempting to make something that never existed before, an end is out of the question. – Interview, October 2015

On her designs: Comme des Garçons is a gift to oneself, not something to appeal or to attract the opposite sex. – Vogue, 1995

On fashion media: I think the media has some responsibility to bear for people becoming more conservative. Many parts of the media have created the situation where uninteresting fashion can thrive. – WWD, November 2012

On the state of fashion: People just want cheap fast clothes and are happy to look like everyone else. That enthusiasm and passionate anger for change and rattling the status quo is weakening. – The Guardian, September 2015

On being labelled “one of the most influential designers in the world”: Celebrity doesn't really affect the work. What affects the work is the expectations from the outside. This is what no one understands. For me, I haven't succeeded in any way whatsoever. Every time before a collection, I say, "I don't want it to come out. I want to cancel it. It's not good. I haven't achieved anything." – Financial Times, April 2017

On being called “isolated": Because you don't like photos, you don't like interviews, you don't bow at the end of the show? It comes from a humble start, where I'm just an artisan. I am a clothes maker, and that's all I am. I only want to talk about the making of the clothes. I don't feel the need to go out there and explain that. – Elle, March 2016

On context: I am always thinking of the total idea, and the context of everything. Fashion alone is so far from being the whole story. It seems that with fashion, as with art, things are getting easier in one sense but at the same time it is getting harder to be stimulated about things or excite people. Without that impetus of creation, progress is not possible. All kinds of ways of expression are spreading out all over the place, information is overflowing, and it’s harder and harder to be excited about anything. In order to be stimulated or moved in the future, we probably have to go into space and look at our world from there. – AnOther, October 2013

On black: Over the 20 years or so since I first showed black clothes in Paris, the colour has completely lost its specialness and strength, however, I think I have proved again that black is still a special and strong colour. – Dazed, 2016

On feminism: I don't like the word feminist. I don't like the word ambitious. I do like the word anti-establishment. – Dazed, 2016

On being normal: You think I’m not normal because you’re looking at the clothes. But I am. Can’t rational people create mad work? – New Yorker, July 2005

On getting her start: The very first thing I wanted to do when I started this was to make a living, be independent and have a job. But I could never find clothes that I wanted to wear, so I decided to make them myself. – The Guardian, September 2015

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