Yesterday Women’s Wear Daily published an interview with Rei Kawakubo, designer for Comme des Garçon. She founded the house in 1969. Kawakubo is a Japanese designer with the mind for invention and the avant-garde.
The interview has been bouncing around in my mind since I first read it, and I felt like it might be worth discussing here a bit. I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me! Please go read the article, if you haven’t already, and then come back.
There are a few lines in Kawakubo’s succinct responses that stuck out to me, but maybe none more than, “I think the media has some responsibility to bear for people becoming more conservative. Many parts of the media have created the situation where uninteresting fashion can thrive.”
As someone part of the media (thanks blog), it made me think about what I present and if I’m part of the problem that Kawakubo sees. I would agree that there is a lack of criticism in the blog world, which probably leads to a lot of “uninteresting” fashion being propped up. Elsewhere, particular magazines are loyal to their favorite designers regardless of what they show each season. It’s rare for Hollywood to take a fashion risk.
But what is interesting? I assume that Kawakubo thinks it means things that have never been done before. As she also said in the interview, “I was only trying to make something completely new” when referring to her most recent collection. Kawakubo’s work is avant-garde, which is attention grabbing and makes you think, regardless if you like it or not.
Interesting can be unusual, different, odd. Those are easily attention-catching characteristics. But it can also be more subtle. Interesting fashion can be found in the details, like a piece by Ralph Rucci, who is famous for jam packing tons of intricacy in the tiniest of details of a piece.
I think interesting can be found in the mass-market fashion industry, but it is rare. Well-made clothes can be called interesting. A clever print, a seldom-used color, and a silhouette that enhances or edits the body can all be interesting. But Kawakubo is on to something about newness. Popular trends quickly fade out of the realm of interesting when they begin to reach market saturation. They aren’t new anymore, and therefore don’t peak curiosity.
Fashion and its carnivorous nature means tried and true looks keep coming back. They sell, so the industry is eager to put out what it knows it will make money on. And maybe this isn’t entirely bad, but it does mean that a person who has been in the fashion industry for more than 40 years can get bored quickly by seeing the same things over and over and over again. I can’t blame Kawakubo for her sharp remark.
So what do you think? Must “interesting” fashion contain a level of newness? What does that word mean to you? And what can the media do to stop perpetuating “uninteresting” fashion?