PARIS — Rei Kawakubo, fashion’s reigning queen of collaborations and unorthodox retail formats, is at it again.
Hot on the heels of new temporary “guerrilla” stores in Berlin and Barcelona, the Japanese designer is teaming up with Paris’ trendiest boutique to create “Colette Meets Comme des Garçons,” an unusual enterprise slated to bow in Tokyo’s trendy Aoyama district in July for a six-month run.
Adrian Joffe, managing director of Comme des Garçons in Paris, said the concept takes collaborations to a new extreme, with not only a shared retail banner but sundry product hookups between the two firms and third parties, from Sofia Coppola and Smythson stationary to Raf Simons and Vans sneakers.
“All the merchandise will be exclusive to the shop,” he said. Comme des Garçons owns the lease and will operate the store, with Colette organizing some of the collaborations.
The 750-square-foot, two-level location, part of Kawakubo’s hometown network for some 25 years, will welcome a series of temporary retail concepts. At present, it is occupied by the first project: a Junya Watanabe Happy Army Store, masterminded by Kawakubo’s chief protégé. It showcases such looks as camouflage jackets overprinted with flowers and other Watanabe designs customized by London artists.
In the new store, the merchandise plan calls for Colette-branded products such as candles, perfumes and music CDs repackaged especially for the boutique; Comme des Garçons and Junya Watanabe T-shirts and bags transformed with references to the Paris boutique —“Colette-icized,” as Joffe dubbed it; exclusive designs from the likes of Prada and Undercover, and the third-party partnerships, which also involve such disparate designers as Hussein Chalayan, Lucien Pellat-Finet and Chrome Hearts. Chalayan, for instance, is collaborating with Misericordia, a charity organization that makes clothing in Peru.
Rounding out the likeness to Colette, the Tokyo version will simultaneously host the same art exhibitions under way at Colette on Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. Four are slated for the six-month run, Joffe noted.
Kawakubo has been making headlines with her rebellious fashion statements lately, from synthetic perfumes named Garage and Tar to her ongoing guerrilla project, in which local partners open temporary Comme des Garçons boutiques in frontier neighborhoods in such far-flung locales as Ljubljana, Slovenia, or Brooklyn, New York. The next is slated to open next month in Singapore, with others to follow soon after in downtown Los Angeles and Stockholm.
Also forthcoming is a sprawling retail complex in central London modeled after the Kensington Market of yore and incorporating a host of retail collaborators and office tenants. Details are still being kept under wraps ahead of an expected fall opening.
Kawakubo also operates in Tokyo a permanent collaboration with Milan-based retailer 10 Corso Como, which is a 9,000-square-foot multibrand unit that bowed in 2001.