The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced the new theme for its 2017 Costume Institute exhibition and gala: “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons.”
Who is Rei Kawakubo? She studied fine arts and literature at Keio University, but she is an untrained designer. After graduating, Kawakubo worked in the advertising department at the textile company, Ashai Kasei and in 1967 she went on to work as a freelance stylist.
In 1973, she established her own company, Comme des Garçons Co. in Tokyo and opened up her first boutique in 1975. She started out with women's clothes and added men's line in 1978. Three years later, she began presenting her fashion lines in Paris.
Challenging the established notions of beauty she created an uproar at her debut Paris fashion show where journalists labeled her clothes 'Hiroshima chic' amongst other things.
Rei is known to be quite reclusive and media shy, preferring her innovative creations to speak for themselves. According to Women's Wear Daily, she is a fashion icon but, during an interview, she said she does not think of herself as an icon. Her designs have inspired many other late designers like the Belgian Martin Margiela and Ann Demeulemeester, as well as Austrian designer Helmut Lang.