Thursday, April 3, 2008

Comme des Garçons and H&M

I'm still not sure what to think of it, Rei Kawakubo's decision to design a capsule collection for H&M. When I read the news Thursday morning, I felt a mixture of incredulity, giddyness, then bewilderment. The undisputed high priestess of intellectual fashion pairing with one of the most commercial mass manufacturers of all time. Okay, so she's joining the ranks of a none too shabby crew which includes the likes of Stella and Karl. But maybe I was so puzzled because Rei, light of the avant garde, was following on the heels of Roberto Cavalli, a designer who is probably best known for mastering the art of sensual dressing.

Then I read the press release:
"I have always been interested in the balance between creation and business. It is a dilemma, although for me creation has always been the first priority. It is a fascinating challenge to work with H&M since it is a chance to take the dilemma to its extreme, and try to solve it."

Rei Kawakubo, who started her label in 1973, still struggles with the business of fashion? What does that mean for those of us who are just starting out? Will I still be struggling in 30 years time?

I have always been in awe of Rei because she, like Ann Demeulemeester & Isabel Toledo, have such distinct visions of fashion. More importantly, they have all had the courage to follow these visions, whether or not that meant commercial success. I admit that sometimes, I don't always "get" her message. But even when Rei admits to exploring the limits of bad taste, as she did in her last collection (see above photo), it somehow comes out extraordinary.

My second thought now is, will I need to camp overnight outside H&M's flagship store to be able to scoop up as many of her designs as possible?

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