Comme As You Are 

Dive into the avant-garde realm of Comme Des Garçons, a fashion powerhouse that has reshaped the industry’s very fabric since its inception in 1969 under the visionary Rei Kawakubo. 

Embracing radical designs that challenge conventional notions of shape and structure, the Japanese label Comme Des Garçons is synonymous with deconstruction, asymmetry, and daring silhouettes, constantly pushing the boundaries of creative expression. With operational hubs in Paris and Tokyo, boasting over 20 diffusion lines and pioneering conceptually groundbreaking runway spectacles, Comme Des Garçons continues to captivate the fashion elite with its unyielding commitment to artistic integrity, compelling onlookers to reconsider contemporary ideals of beauty and artistry.

Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme Des Garçons and Dover Street Market.

Among the label’s most coveted collections is the provocative 1997 “Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body” collection, which caused controversy among fashion media with its daring exploration of exaggerated forms and unconventional textures, challenging societal norms of femininity. Recent auction successes include Kerry Taylor Auctions presenting a momentous opportunity for enthusiasts to acquire a dark navy gingham ‘Body Meets Dress’ ensemble which fetched upwards of $27,000. 2018 saw the $40,000 sale of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s iconic Comme Des Garçons overcoat, which underscored the brand’s interwoven and culturally significant ties with the art world, a piece of sartorial history imbued with the artist’s avant-garde spirit. Basquiat’s affiliation with the renowned Japanese fashion house adds an extra layer of significance to this simple yet rare garment, which fetched considerable attention and admiration from collectors, further solidifying the brand’s status as a cult fashion spearhead. 

Comme Des Garçons remains at the forefront of impeccable innovation, guided by Rei Kawakubo’s unwavering commitment to creativity and artistic expression. From groundbreaking collections to transformative retail concepts, the allure of Comme Des Garçons extends beyond the runway and into the realm of luxury resale. The brand’s collectability has elevated the concept of pre-owned luxury, with boutiques solely dedicated to buying and selling the rich archives, including Melbourne store ‘Dot Comme’, serving as sanctuaries for fashion aficionados, offering access to the brand’s rarities. This approach not only shines light on fashion’s potential to move towards a sustainable future, but also honours the brand’s innovative heritage allowing consumers to engage with iconic pieces in fresh ways. 

Dress by Rei Kawakubo on display in the exhibition Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons Art of the In-Between at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017.

Kawakubo’s influence also transcends the confines of traditional retail, revolutionising the shopping experience into an immersive journey through fashion history. The boutique, Dover Street Market, with its meticulously curated spaces blending vintage treasures with contemporary creations, epitomises Kawakubo’s visionary approach to both new and pre-owned fashion. It inspired a global trend in highly curated and second-hand luxury consumption.

Rei Kawakubo’s steadfast dedication to creativity over commerce has proven timeless, exemplified by her prohibition of the sales team’s creative input to safeguard the brand’s distinctive edge. The brand’s timestamped archives have not only ignited a worldwide luxury resale trend but have also heralded a transformative phase of artistic innovation within the fashion sphere. In essence, Comme Des Garçons stands as a testament to Kawakubo’s fearless pursuit of artistic excellence, transcending trends to redefine the very essence of fashion. With each collection and runway spectacle, the brand reaffirms its status as a beacon of creativity, inspiring generations of designers and consumers alike. 

Our Luxury Auction will take place on Tuesday 9 April in Melbourne. For viewing times and to see the full catalogue please visit our website.

By Indigo Keane, Luxury Specialist

Top Image: A museum employee adjusts the Balenciaga-inspired women’s ensemble, polyurethane leather dress by Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons, Tokyo, 2016. / Alamy

April 2024