Comme des Garcons accused of cultural appropriation over cornrow wigs

Officials at Comme des Garcons have issued an apology after they were accused of cultural appropriation for having models wear cornrow wigs during their latest Paris Fashion Week show. The Japanese fashion brand, headed up by Rei Kawakubo, debuted its…

Officials at Comme des Garcons have issued an apology after they were accused of cultural appropriation for having models wear cornrow wigs during their latest Paris Fashion Week show.

The Japanese fashion brand, headed up by Rei Kawakubo, debuted its fall 2020 menswear collection in Paris on Friday, showcasing an array of colourful, patterned clothing.

However, it was the styling of the models that caught people’s attention, as the catwalk stars headed down the runway wearing lace-front wigs designed to resemble cornrows, although some black models sported their own hair.

Critics were quick to call out the brand for cultural appropriation, with the team behind fashion watchdog Diet Prada deeming the decision to be “a step back” and “problematic”, while other social media users branded it “offensive”.

Hairstylist Julien d’Ys, who has collaborated with Kawakubo for many years, responded to the backlash by insisting he had been inspired by an “Egyptian prince” look and had not intended to offend anyone.

“Dear all, my inspiration for the comme des garcons show was Egyptian prince – a look I found truly beautiful and inspirational. A look that was an hommag (sic),” he wrote on Instagram. “Never was it my intention to hurt or offend anyone, ever. If I did, I deeply apologise.”

Representatives for the brand issued a similar apology to Dazed, with them insisting, “It was never, ever our intention to disrespect or hurt anyone – we deeply and sincerely apologise for any offense it has caused.”

The company previously came under fire in early 2018 after Martin Lerma wrote an article criticising the lack of diversity in the models used for the Comme des Garcons presentations. In the piece, he revealed the brand hadn’t cast a model of colour in more than 20 years, something bosses rectified when they unveiled their fall/winter 2018 show.

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Rei Kawakubo: ‘I don’t sketch or style’

Comme des Garcons founder Rei Kawakubo doesn’t sketch or style and has a “unique way of working”. The 76-year-old, who heads one of the most influential fashion houses in the world, opened up about her unusual design process, and explained why she wil…

Comme des Garcons founder Rei Kawakubo doesn’t sketch or style and has a “unique way of working”.

The 76-year-old, who heads one of the most influential fashion houses in the world, opened up about her unusual design process, and explained why she will never be pigeonholed.

“I design the company, not pieces of clothing,” Kawakubo told Dezeen. “It’s nothing about clothes, it’s a different way to express my value of Comme des Garcons. I don’t sketch or style. It’s a unique way of working, I don’t think anybody else works like that.”

Ever since she established the brand in Tokyo back in 1969, Kawakubo has always had creative control.

“It’s the only brand in the world that works like that A-Z,” she stated. “If my eyes aren’t on it, it’s not Comme des Garcons.”

Comme des Garcons has luxury stores in several countries, including Japan, America, France and the U.K., and both the brand and its founder were featured in a major exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York back in 2017.

However, Kawakubo never studied fashion, and instead started out by getting a job in a textile factory, where she began styling. After struggling to find the clothes she wanted, she started designing her own, and eventually set up her company – Comme des Garcons.

“I’m not an artist, not a fashion designer,” she explained. “I always wanted to use fashion as a tool, as a material to make a business out of creation. I wanted to be independent, make a business and work.”

The petite designer is known for her simple, understand style, and wears her hair in a sleek bob with a sharp fringe.

But when asked to describe her style, she appeared confused.

“I never thought of making my own style. I just wear the things I make,” she said simply. “It’s Comme des Garcons style.”

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Rei Kawakubo collaborates with Gucci and Burberry on mini holiday collection

Rei Kawakubo has convinced Gucci’s Alessandro Michele and Burberry star Riccardo Tisci to collaborate on a holiday collection.According to editors at WWD, the 76-year-old Japanese designer, who is revered for her work at brand Comme Des Garcons (CDG), …

Rei Kawakubo has convinced Gucci’s Alessandro Michele and Burberry star Riccardo Tisci to collaborate on a holiday collection.

According to editors at WWD, the 76-year-old Japanese designer, who is revered for her work at brand Comme Des Garcons (CDG), has created a collection of holiday items, based on an “iconic” piece of clothing, accessory or design fragment from her peers’ respective fashion houses.

The capsule collection of nine items, includes a “first time ever” collaboration for Maison Martin Margiela, as led by John Galliano, who allowed Rei to rework its iconic AIDS charity T-shirt, which has been reissued annually since 1993.

Fashion fans can also purchase Jean Paul Gaultier’s classic Breton top with red polka dots added to the sailor stripes, and a Burberry check scarf featuring the slogan “My Energy Comes from my Freedom” emblazoned across it. Other designers who have contributed to the range include Walter Van Beirendonck, Simone Rocha, Craig Green, Marine Serre, and Stussy. The items will cost from $250 – $500 (£194 – £389).

“We have always enjoyed the synergies of CDG-style collaborations, which is not about brainstorming and back-and-forth with the other party but about trust and respect,” Adrian Joffe, president of Comme des Garcons International and chief executive at Dover Street Market, told WWD. “Rei does not enjoy two captains on a ship. So, we either leave it to them or ask that they leave it to her. The nine brands were very happy to leave it to her this time.”

For streetwear brand Stussy, the playful designer switched the California brand’s logo upside down on a classic white T-shirt.

“It’s so cool,” Joffe smiled. “It’s about giving the possibility for accident and synergy.”

The collection, part of Comme des Garcons’ annual holiday campaign, will go on sale on Friday (23Nov18) in Rei’s boutique network in Japan, before it is rolled out to other CDG stores and Dover Street Market locations on 6 December.

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Comme des Garcons launching direct-to-consumer brand

Comme des Garcons is gearing up to unveil a new direct-to-consumer brand.The fashion house was founded in Tokyo by Rei Kawakubo in 1969, with the label building up a reputation for its predominant use of black and distressed fabrics. In recent years, K…

Comme des Garcons is gearing up to unveil a new direct-to-consumer brand.

The fashion house was founded in Tokyo by Rei Kawakubo in 1969, with the label building up a reputation for its predominant use of black and distressed fabrics.

In recent years, Kawakubo has expanded Comme des Garcons to include casual line Comme des Garcons Play and menswear range Comme des Garcons Homme, with brand bosses now set to add another online-based category.

“Nobody knows yet, but what I can tell you is it’s going to be Internet-based,” said Comme des Garcons chief executive officer Adrian Joffe at the opening party for a Dover Street Market boutique in Beijing last week (ends01Apr18), adding that the “simple” range of men’s and womenswear will eventually be stocked in six stores around the world.

Further details about the line are being kept under wraps, including a potential release date. However, Joffe confirmed that Kawakubo was taking a hands-on approach and will even have a role in designing the website for the new label.

As well as having Comme des Garcons boutiques in Tokyo, Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore and Manila, the company has its clothes and accessories stocked in its market-based department store Dover Street Market in London, the market’s original location, New York, Tokyo and Singapore.

The boutiques also stock pieces from Balenciaga, Celine, Gucci, Junya Watanabe, Lanvin, Marni, Raf Simons, Saint Laurent and Vetements. Irish designer Simone Rocha also has her creations sold at Dover Street Market stores and has noted that the partnership has had a positive impact on her business.

“They have so much respect for young designers, and at the same time a huge amount of respect for heritage. Being a part of that is really special,” she told the publication.

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