i-Con: rei kawakubo
The brains behind Comme des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo is one of the most important and influential fashion designers working today. Independence is the driving force of her career; specifically independence from outdated ideals of beauty and the corporate...
"Without independence, it would have been impossible to do what we have done. We will always keep our independence because it equals freedom and that is the most important thing."
"It's boring if things are accomplished too easily, right? When I work, I think about the excitement of achievement after hard effort and pain."
"I've always said I'm not an artist. For me, fashion design is a business. It's my job. It's what I do. But it also stems from wanting people to be free and independent. It's a convenient and simple way of giving independence, because everybody has to wear clothes."
"People interest me. I am inspired by the people surrounding me. Beautiful or stylish is a personal feeling. I don't have a definition of beauty."
"I like people who work with their heart and their soul and who follow their beliefs strongly."
"Comme des Garçons has always been about looking for new ways to express beauty and freedom, and that inevitably becomes more difficult as time goes on. But I have to continue because I am responsible for many people's jobs and because I don't believe I have achieved all I can yet."
"Many designers cater to their idea of what they think men would like to see women as. I think it takes courage to do something that might not be the established way that men see women. And because it is the accepted way it also means the clothes sell better. It's commercial, because every culture is the same way now. It becomes part of the system, even though designers must feel like they're doing what everybody else is doing — it becomes a vicious circle. It's safe. You have to break out of that if you want to do something different."
"Fashion design is a good way of expressing values that are important to me: work hard, get strong, work together, live for what you believe in. For me, fashion design is just an expression of what I feel about life."
"I realize that clothes have to be worn and sold to a certain number of people. That's the difference between being a painter or sculptor and a clothing designer. It is, in a sense, a very commercial field. Unfortunately my collections tend to be very concentrated and focused on very few ideas and this is a commercial problem. I try to get more variety, but I can't. It's not my way."
"One instant of satisfaction and I worry that I won't be able to come up with the next creation. I always have to have that hunger. As long as I continue to do what I'm doing, I have to keep pushing on."
Quotes from i-D, No. 104, The Glamour Issue, 1992. i-D, No. 218, The Landscape Issue, 2002. i-D, No. 249, The Expressionist Issue, 2004.
Portrait Leonard Koren