PARIS — A iconoclast in the fashion world, Rei Kawakubo is often referred to as the “designer’s designer.”
She’s also proving to be a formidable co-designer. WWD has learned Kawakubo is teaming up with her protégé, Junya Watanabe, to design Comme des Garçons Homme, the Japanese firm’s principal and most commercial men’s collection, which is sold in some 80 stores in Japan and accounts for about a fifth of the house’s turnover.
Their first collaboration will be for the spring 2004 season and be shown in Japan next month. Previously, the 18-year-old line was designed by Keiichi Tanaka.
Adrian Joffe, managing director of Comme des Garçons in Paris, said the Homme line is presently only sold in Japan, but “there’s a possibility for exports.”
Kawakubo will also continue to design the Comme des Garçons Homme Plus line, the most avant-garde of her fashion offerings for men that she shows on the runway in Paris each season. Meanwhile, Watanabe will continue to create his Junya Watanabe Man line, introduced in 2001. Both present their next collections here June 28 during men’s fashion week.
But that’s not all. Kawakubo, who designs the Comme des Garçons Shirt collection, also has a new joint venture with sportswear brand Fred Perry, owned by Japanese firm Hit Union. A portion of the line, starting with spring 2004, will be cobranded Fred Perry/Comme des Garçons Shirt.
Joffe said Kawakubo was invited to dig through the archives of Fred Perry, established in 1950 by the English tennis legend, and she plans to reinterpret the collection, maintaining elements like its signature embroidered laurel-wreath crest while adding her own details. The cobranded line, which also includes a tennis shoe, will be available to all wholesale clients of Comme des Garçons Shirt. While ostensibly a men’s line, Joffe noted that small sizes have long been available, and many women wear the shirts.
Kawakubo’s 30-year-old fashion empire has a long history of collaboration. She works with Vivienne Westwood on a collection that is sold exclusively in Tokyo at 10 Corso Como Comme des Garçons, a retail partnership between Kawakubo and Milan retailer Carla Sozzani. For his part, Watanabe has worked with Levi Strauss and Lewis Leathers for his men’s line, and with Nike for women’s and men’s footwear.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast