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Designers are a competitive bunch, yet Rei Kawakubo is an equalizer, one of the most admired and vaunted among her peers.
“I think she’s very, very interesting,” offers Karl Lagerfeld..“I always liked the men’s wear, and I love the
perfume.” Like many fashion folk, Lagerfeld pinpoints Kawakubo’s “two-dimensional” fall collection—featuring doll-like shapes rendered in thick felt—as a standout. “It was really new and different,” he says.
“That was the most amazing show I’ve ever seen from anyone—ever!” agrees Marc Jacobs. “I just think she has an extraordinarily unique vision and voice,” adds Jacobs, who often wears Comme des Garçons skirts. “I wear the clothes. I don’t just look at it as design for the sake of design.”
Jacobs marvels that Kawakubo’s collections—as varied as they are—have a strong handwriting: grafting clothes onto clothes, or using clothes to create other clothes, for example. “There’s always something different and new, but there’s always a common thread, too,” he says. “It’s not about dressing for other people. It’s not buying clothes to attract or seduce. It feels like a gift you give yourself.”
“Rei is like a compass,” enthuses Celine designer Phoebe Philo..“She is tuned into some deep sense of where we are today. I don’t always understand it, but I get the feeling that she is right to be there anyway. On days where I feel tired or flat, her universe always gives me the fight to continue.”