27 November 2017

Comme des Garçons’ Forgotten Magazine

When Six was originally printed in 1988, Rei Kawakubo told the New York Times: “High fashion has to have a mystery about it. This is the next step: visual representation of the collection, purely for image.” Little did she, or anyone for that matter, know what was to follow as the visual manifestation of social media platforms changed how we consume fashion imagery. A decade since it earned its own exhibition, I'm revisiting Six, the bi-annual magazine produced by Comme des Garçons which explores the Sixth Sense.


Fifteen years into her Comme des Garçons tenure, Rei Kawakubo launched Six, the publication which had a limited three year print run, producing eight aesthetically stunning but difficult to source issues. It was arguably the first project of its kind in the context of fashion in its approach to visually naviagting an overarching theme encapsulated the brand's aesthetic identity.

In this case, the theme of the sixth sense was ripe for the picking; it was deciphered and reassembled with select photographs, illustrations and artworks – all of which were original content created for the project – acting as the glue to hold it all together. Working with designer Tsuguya Inoue in an art director role and editor Atsuko Kozasu, Kawakubo released each issue to coincide with the launch of Comme des Garçons’ latest collection.


Comme worked on a conceptual level with designers and artists who were not particularly involved in the fashion industry, strapping the clothes into the backseat to make way for an entirely new way to communicate the brand's direction. The format of the magazine—oversized unstapled pages—gave prominence to the artwork of contributors including Bruce Weber, Kishin Shinoyama, Gilbert & George and Minsei Tominaga. 

The few existing issues are now collectors’ items, considered by many to be aesthetic treasures costing upwards of £1,800 for the seires in its entirety. With Kawakubo maintaining that her own imagination is her greatest creative stimulusSix is more than a mere catalogue of references; it's an opportunity to  peer through the pages of a mind that changed the landscape of fashion.

 

In 2008, to celebrate 40 years of Rei Kawakubo's vision, Dover Street Market was transformed, laden with images from Six to form the Comme des Garçons  “Printed Matter” exhibition. Over the six floors of DSM, specially constructed rooms, boxes and tunnels were constructed and covered with blown-up prints of Comme’s printed matter. Designed by Kawakubo herself, the structures envloped the entrance, the the till points and everything inbetween to create a truly immersive Comme des Garçons experience.


With a highly particular vision that was and still is, applied to every aspect of Comme des Garçons, Kawakubo not only reinvented ideas of what fashion and beauty could be, but also extended this to interior, packaging, furniture and graphic design. This symbiotic relationship between fashion and contemporary art inevitably lead to the same deconstructive visual cues that can seen within the clothes themselves.