Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons is one of the most important figures in contemporary fashion. For the past forty years, she has created fashion explicitly on her own terms, rethinking the way clothes are conceived and made, and how they are presented and sold. Kawakubo’s collections are bewildering, beautiful, provocative and profound. They reject conventions of gender and beauty, and even garment forms. Season after season, her designs appear unlike anything else.
Collecting Comme is the first Australian exhibition to focus on Rei Kawakubo’s work and legacy. Featuring more than sixty-five outfits by Rei Kawakubo and another fifteen works by her protégés Junya Watanabe and Tao Kurihara, the exhibition highlights the NGV’s rich holdings, made possible by the generous benefaction of Takamasa Takahashi.
In 2005, Takamasa Takahashi donated a number of important Comme des Garçons garments from the early 1980s to the NGV. Since then he has gifted more than 100 outfits and thirty individual pieces, spanning the years 1981 to 2014, and representing more than forty collections. The growth of the Fashion and Textiles collection is enabled by the support of donors such as Takamasa Takahashi, and his incredible generosity has made the NGV the largest public repository of Comme des Garçons designs in Australia.
This ebook celebrates the story of Rei Kawakubo, and offers insight into her ambition to change the rules of fashion. The publication also features an interview with Takamasa Takahashi that explains his passion for Comme des Garçons.
Collecting Comme is testament to the commitment and dedication of many NGV staff from across all departments of the Gallery and I thank them for their significant contributions, in particular: Andrew Clark, Deputy Director; Don Heron, Assistant Director, Exhibitions Management and Design; Donna McColm, Acting Assistant Director, Curatorial and Collection Management; Skye Firth, Senior Conservator, Textiles, and her team; Ingrid Rhule, Manager, Exhibition Design; Nguyen Le, Exhibition Designer, Exhibition Design; Rachael Walker, Registration Assistant, Collection Operations; Jasmin Chua, Publications Manager; Christian Markel, Photographer, Photographic Services; Colette Watson, Senior Web Designer, Multimedia; Benjamin Ducroz, Moving Image Manager; Matthew Richards, Moving Image Designer; and Nicole Monteiro, Exhibitions Manager. I also acknowledge Danielle Whitfield, Curator, Fashion and Textiles, for her efforts in bringing together the exhibition and this ebook. Finally, I would like once again to extend my sincere gratitude to Takamasa Takahashi, whose knowledge and appreciation of Comme des Garçons, and desire to share these works with the public, has made this exhibition possible.
Tony Ellwood AM
Director, National Gallery of Victoria