meet one of the world's most obsessive comme des garçons collectors
Farfetch is celebrating Rei Kawakubo and Comme des Garçons through the ages, as it brings dot COMME to its platform. Here, founder Octavius la Rosa tells us just how his hobby morphed into a business.
"Rei is an inspiration," Octavius la Rosa explains to i-D over email. "To me she represents freedom to do what you want and be who you want to be." After encountering her designs during a coming-of-age trip to Tokyo, an obsession was born and the Melbourne-based fan became a collector. Over the last decade, he has sourced and curated an extensive collection of unique Comme des Garçons pieces acquired from all over the globe. Continually inspired by Comme, dot COMME blurs the boundaries between artifacts and merchandise, museum pieces and retail products, art and fashion. As the hobby has evolved into a business, the shape-shifting collection first found a home on eBay before la Rosa opened the doors to a permanent space close to Melbourne's Chinatown, quickly followed by an online store too. In a week that sees the opening of the Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Costume Institute exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, dot COMME joins Farfetch. Now is the time to celebrates this special Rei of light through the ages.
"Our customers love finding one-of-a-kind pieces and Dot COMME's collection of men's and women's archive and current items will give our customers the chance to explore Comme de Garçons' completely unique viewpoint on fashion through the ages," Candice Fragis, Buying and Merchandising Director at Farfetch, explains excitedly. "This extensive collection is made up of amazing signature pieces that feature the abstract designs, radical silhouettes and exaggerated contrasting textures and prints, which are so synonymous with the brand's groundbreaking aesthetic. We're excited to give dot COMME's curated collection a global online platform on Farfetch." As the collection launches online, la Rosa talks us through the past, present, and future of his lifelong obsession.
What sparked the love affair with the brand? Was there a particular collection or garment that kickstarted it all?
I first went to Japan when I was 16. At the time, I'd heard of Comme des Garçons, but hadn't done any extensive research. Seeing how amazing the pieces were in person sparked an interest in me and a need to know more.
Why Comme des Garçons? What does Comme des Garçons mean to you?
When I dress up in Comme it makes me feel good. I think it's as simple as that. There's a sense of fun which I'm drawn to. Rei is an inspiration; to me she represents freedom to do what you want and be who you want to be.
How did this passion become a business?
When I filled my spare room with clothes and needed a space saving solution! The business has always been secondary and a means to continue the collection. To me, it's my hobby and passion. I don't think I could function if I stopped collecting. There are so many memorable collections for me! I think my favourite would have to be the autumn/winter 96 Flowering Clothes and the showpieces from the recent Comme collections are some of my favourites.
How do balance the personal collection with what you sell? Are there any items that you just couldn't share with the world?
It's hard to say goodbye to pieces I sell, but it's all in the pursuit of a bigger and better collection.
For you, which items of the currently available best embody the spirit of Comme des Garçons?
I've got many pieces from the very beginning from around 1975. Also an extensive archive of 80s pieces. The most famous pieces are some padded pieces from spring/summer 97 and a number of the 2D show pieces from autumn/winter 12.
Now that you're on Farfetch, what excites you most about tomorrow and beyond?
I'm thrilled to be partnering with Farfetch and having this amazing platform to share my collection with a global audience. I'm so glad that those who aren't so familiar with the history of Comme des Garçons are going to get a chance to better understand this incredible design house and see the influence they've had in so many aspects of design today.
Text Steve Salter