HOMAGE TO REI: 40 YEARS OF COMME DES GARCONS
We are excited to announce that our friends at Vogue.com have released an online feature and preview of Resurrection’s upcoming presentation Homage To Rei: 40 Years of Comme des Garcons.
Our Comme des Garcons show opens Tuesday, April 18th exclusively at Resurrection New York and will display over 100 retail pieces. Our complete online presentation launches 4/18/17 only at ResurrectionVintage.com.
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“I don’t know where else you’re going to go where you can see 100 pieces of Comme des Garçons that you can try on. I don’t,” says Katy Rodriguez, co-founder of vintage mecca Resurrection, in reference to an in-store exhibition opening April 18 at the company’s newish outpost on Great Jones Street. Timed to capitalize on the CDG mania sparked by the Met’s upcoming exhibit, “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between,” Resurrection’s display will include looks by Junya Watanabe and Tao Kurihara, who have worked under the larger Comme des Garçons umbrella, in addition to displaying for-sale pieces designed by Kawakubo between the 1980s and today. “There’s some really great stuff,” says Rodriguez, “so we said, ‘You know what? Let’s just do it all.’ ”
Rodriguez has been buying Comme des Garçons—for business and pleasure—since 1996 when she and Mark Haddawy founded Resurrection. (Evidently it was a good year: Rodriguez considers “Flowering Clothes,” Kawakubo’s Fall 1996 outing, a “perfect” collection.) “It’s just one of those things,” muses the buyer. “I guess I just liked it from the time I was a kid. I grew up in San Francisco, and at that time, that type of dressing was really popular. The Japanese things really hit California—both San Francisco and Los Angeles—in a major way. I think a lot of Hollywood people and a lot of arty people gravitated to it; it fit that West Coast [vibe].”
In fact, the market has not only shown that Comme des Garçons has a wide appeal, but, unlike many brands that emerged in the 1980s, it has been able to stand the test of time in a changing vintage industry. Here, Rodriguez shares her unique perspective on that business, the role Kawakubo has played in altering the collectible clothing market, and how Comme des Garçons has changed in the 21 years she’s been buying it.
On museums versus archives . . .
We work with the Met; we love them. When [the curators] come down to Resurrection, they bring their gloves and the whole thing. Those presentations they do up there are the best; they’re stunning. Something about seeing the clothes like that, and the grandeur of it is obviously exciting, but there’s also something really fun about being able to interact [with the clothes], to be able try them on, turn them inside out and see how they were constructed, buy them. We’re sort of there to do that. Especially now, with social media and fashion magazines and all of these iconic images online, to get to see the [actual] clothes, or even just seeing the evolution of the old labels. If you’re clothes geeks like we are, that’s exciting.
On the ways Comme des Garçons has changed the historic and collectible clothing industry . . .
Comme des Garçons is one of the few brands that we buy consistently all the way through. I don’t care when it’s from; it doesn’t have to be 10 years old, or 20 years old, all those old signifiers. . . . It’s really weird at this point to say that what we do is vintage, because I think the connotation is completely separate from what we do, [which] is buy and sell design. Comme des Garçons is one of the brands that made [that] okay in our world. A company like Comme des Garçons allowed me, a buyer, to kind of jump off [a] script [that said], “This what vintage people do. This is what a vintage store looks like.” You could just see [the value and importance of Comme des Garçons]. It was so obvious. You would see the glove collection or something and it was like, Duh! We’re just going to buy this now because everybody’s going to want this next year—and every year after that.
On Rei Kawakubo . . .
In 21 years, I’ve met everybody, but I’ve never met Rei. She’s such an enigma. I don’t really hear a lot of backstory about what happens at Comme des Garçons, like I hear what’s going on at every other house because of my job. I don’t know how involved she is; I just know that it’s still so progressive. Most people just rest on their laurels; they get that signature thing. That’s the whole point, right? Design things that everybody wants and then make it over and over for 800 years, tweak it a little bit, and that’s how we make money. That’s really how [the] business operates, so it’s pretty astonishing really what Kawakubo’s done. There are so few brands—designers, houses, whatever—where there’s total signature integrity.
We look at all these old clothes that get offered to us, and every once in a while there’s something new. You see it and go, “Oh, okay, that’s important. I can totally see that everybody’s going to want that in 10 years.” Comme des Garçons consistently [provokes that emotion]. I think that’s a very Japanese thing: The future, the past, it’s all kind of built into one. I think that’s something Kawakubo—really all of them under the Comme des Garçons label—do really well. I think it’s an inherent part of their designs and they really do stand alone in that way. Even more so now with these later [Comme des Garçons] collections where a lot of the stuff seems not easily wearable, and it seems very “for the runway.” It doesn’t really feel like very many other people are doing concepts, are willing to do concepts that probably won’t sell. But 10 years from now, people will learn a lot from them, and they’ll be able to see [those] things in a completely different way.
On how Comme des Garçons has changed over the years . . .
For me, the most obvious [change] right off the bat is the materials. The technology of the fabrics has really changed. The early stuff is way more natural; [now it’s more about] plastic and polyesters. At this point it seems like [Kawakubo] is really challenging the idea of wearability in a different way. In the 1980s [Kawakubo’s designs were] more personal. They would challenge me to wear something different, unusual, unconventional—all of that stuff. The shows she does today, I feel like they challenge the world at large. I don’t feel they are quite as much directed at me, the buyer, the person who is going to come in and buy something off the rack, like it was previously.
On how vintage is bought today . . .
It’s been really interesting how [our industry has] changed over 21 years. People just want something great. I don’t think they really care if it’s 30 years old or 40 years old; they just care that it has some sort of iconic weight and that it’s good design. Younger people are not doing Ossie Clark or Thea Porter or even the classic Versace; they don’t see it in that way anymore, and I think it’s really cool. I think that this industry really needed that.
You can still go into a mom-and-pop vintage store, and it can still be cool and fun in that way that it’s always been—kind of like going into an old book store—but [young people] are looking at totally different designers. They’re looking at Raf Simons and Helmut Lang and Comme des Garçons and Ann Demeulemeester, as opposed to looking at Versace, Mugler, Alaïa. They don’t even bother with that. I would say that Comme des Garçons is definitely a designer, a house—at least from our perspective—that broke that barrier because it just it was sort of timeless, and you could see its importance in its moment.