Rei Kawakubo – The Queen of Weird

Rei Kawakubo, also known as the “Queen of Weird” and the “High Priestess of Hyper-Goth” is a Japanese fashion designer based in Tokyo. She is best known for founding the fashion label Comme des Garçons in 1973. In her designs, Kawakubo has consistently challenged conventional ideas about what is beautiful and what people should wear. Her avant-garde collections have a habit of confounding onlookers by mixing high-end fabrics and cut with thrift shop finds, Victorian details with punk undertones, and traditional work garments with modernist deconstructions.

Know more about Rei Kawakubo

Rei Kawakubo was born in Tokyo in 1942. She was born into a wealthy Japanese family and was expected to take over the family business. At the time of her birth, Japan was in the midst of World War 2. Kawakubo’s family was heavily involved in the war effort, and Kawakubo herself was expected to follow suit. Her mother had a love for western clothing and couture, and this influenced Kawakubo as a child. Kawakubo’s family was wealthy enough to survive the war, but there was little left over for frivolities. Kawakubo’s childhood was a lonely one. She was often sick and had few friends. Kawakubo found solace in art and fashion. She would often draw and sketch her clothing designs. As a teenager, Kawakubo was sent to a Swiss boarding school. It was here that Kawakubo discovered the philosophy of Nietzsche. This would greatly influence Kawakubo’s future career and designs. In the mid-60s, Kawakubo moved to Paris and became involved with the avant-garde art scene. She also became interested in tailoring and pattern making. It was here that Kawakubo’s lifelong interest in disrupting social norms was first evident. Kawakubo would often appear at art openings in outlandish outfits.


In 1973, Kawakubo opened Comme des Garçons (French for “Like the Boys”) in Tokyo. At the time, Tokyo’s fashion scene was dominated by Western designers who were focused on creating clothing for the upper crust of Japanese society. This was a world that Kawakubo did not fit into. She would often be the only woman present at fashion conferences. In addition, Kawakubo’s work was outside the norm of what was expected from a designer. Her designs were often dark and did not fit into any particular style. Kawakubo’s clothes were often described as ugly and strange. As the years went on, Kawakubo became more and more successful. She expanded her company, and her work was featured in museums around the world. Today, Kawakubo’s designs are recognized as some of the most unique and influential in the world of fashion. Comme des Garçons is a global brand that is worn by celebrities and everyday people alike.

Life before Comme des Garçons

Kawakubo has always been a bit of an outsider. She was an outlier even before she started designing clothes. Growing up, Kawakubo was often sick, and she was often the only girl in her class at school. She was also the only Japanese girl at her Swiss boarding school. Kawakubo was so different from everybody else that she did not fit in with the other artists in Paris, either. Kawakubo’s life before Comme des Garçons was lonely and difficult. However, these hardships helped Kawakubo develop a strong sense of self and a fierce determination to succeed. She has been quoted as saying that she is not interested in pleasing people. She is only interested in pleasing herself.

Key Pieces from Rei Kawakubo's wardrobe

When looking at the work of a fashion designer, it is important to examine their clothing. The way that designers dress can tell us a lot about their values and worldview. This is especially true in Kawakubo’s case. Her clothing is often dark, loud, and jarring. However, it is also highly unique and instantly recognizable. One of Kawakubo’s most famous and recognizable pieces is her black vertical striped t-shirt. The t-shirt can be seen on the cover of nearly every issue of her company’s magazine and is a signature piece of Kawakubo’s style. This shirt is often worn with blue overalls, a traditional work garment, which is another one of Kawakubo’s iconic pieces. Kawakubo often pairs her black t-shirt with blue jeans.


Rei Kawakubo has been challenging ideas and breaking the mould of what fashion is supposed to be for over 40 years now. Her designs are often dark and challenging. Kawakubo does not appear interested in creating wearable clothing for the average person. While some designers create clothing for people to wear, Kawakubo’s designs seem more like art pieces meant to be displayed in a museum. Kawakubo has no interest in appealing to the masses. She is interested only in pleasing herself. Kawakubo’s work is often strange, jarring, and difficult to understand. However, it is also often extremely beautiful. Kawakubo’s work has been featured in museums around the world and worn by celebrities. Kawakubo is truly a fashion icon and a revolutionary designer.