This power house fashion icon is actually untrained as a fashion designer but studied Literature and Fine Art at Tokyo's prestigious Keio University. In 1973, Rei Kawakubo started her own label, Comme des Garçon (literally translated as, "Like Boys"). Five years later she started a men's line and in 1981 she showed for the first time in Paris. Her debut made waves in the fashion industry, and editors called her unique looks, "Hiroshima chic". Kawakubo is often more interested in clothing as conceptualized art or, more recently, "body extensions". Her avant-garde approach to fashion has claimed her quite a following and fashion editors either love her or love to hate her. And Ms. Kawakubo, herself, has called her idiosyncratic apparel "anti-fashion".
In the early 1990's Rei gifted her favorite apprentice, Junya Watanabe, with his own line, which he has successfully grown into his own aesthetic. In 2005 she invested in her own company again by adding another label, Tao, the latest hopeful to emerge from the Comme des Garçon team.
Kawakubo is one of the few business-savy fashion designers whose appreciation for design on ALL levels has lead to the opening of Dover Street Market. Situated in London, it is boutique of fashion and product designers, all hand selected by Rei Kawakubo herself. Rei Kawakubo leads a secluded life in Tokyo and is known for being deeply involved in every aspect of her enormous company.