REI KAWAKUBO
A REFLECTION ON BEAUTY, FROM A DESIGNER OF FEW WORDS.

Byline: Ben Brantley, March 1983

What is beautiful is beautiful. And there are things in culture and tradition you can’t be blind to.” Not surprisingly, Rei Kawakubo identifies the most explicit sources of inspiration as “the varied kinds of fabric I’ve seen in my lifetime — often something quite distant from clothing. A piece of paper, for example, or carpeting.”
For fall, the unlikely cue for fabric comes from “something way back in my childhood — a crumpled kind of cardboard I used to play with.”
Kawakubo shuns collective labels. “I’m not very happy to be classified as another Japanese designer. There is no one characteristic that all Japanese designers have. Each is an individual, with individual tastes…
“Here the women are working, they’re on their own and they buy their clothes with money they’ve earned themselves. In Japan, when a woman gets married, she seems to conform to a certain way of dressing appropriate to a married woman and mother. She considers the social situation, and other people’s opinions….
“Women tend to say it’s hard if you’re a woman. But if you know you really want to do it — that you have to — then it’s not difficult. It follows its own course.”