Interviewing Comme des Garçons’s Rei Kawakubo in Paris last month was the realization of a lifelong dream, the pinnacle of my professional and personal life (well, okay, almost). The notoriously reticent Rei can prove to be quite the challenge. Still, I came away with several life lessons from the great lady, and I am happy to share six of them.
Rei gives a whole new meaning to “never complain, never explain.”
Ask yourself: Would she be such a figure of fascination if she were a blabbermouth? For example, she never mentioned to me that as an early act of rebellion, she wore her school uniform socks pushed down, and she also didn’t tell me that she owns a couple of tiaras—and that she might wear one to the Met! Andrew Bolton, curator of the upcoming Comme des Garçons exhibit, shared these revelations with me, which makes them even more delicious.
Rei redefines the meaning of ordinary.
Wondering about your place in the universe? Maybe you should take a page from RK, who says she doesn’t think she is doing anything special: “I am just working every day, day to day, with what I believe. It’s a very ordinary way of dealing with your life—just dealing with your work.”
You can get sick of vintage!
Yes, apparently this is possible. According to Rei, in the past she liked vintage stores, “but recently, completely not. I don’t look very much at magazines or go to vintage stores. I used to go a lot, but since the last change, the big shift with not making clothes [for a conventional runway show], I can’t look at anything old or preexisting.”
You’re only as good as your last show.
Even though her presentations are invariably met with wild enthusiasm, this amazing reaction doesn’t make her particularly happy; in fact, she doesn’t believe people when they say they were blown away. After all, she observes, “nobody has ever said, ‘This is not as good as the last one.’ ”
Even icons watch the Oscars.
Just like you, Rei thought the wild end of this year’s Academy Awards was really fun. “It’s always so controlled, so fixed, so not real,” she says. “So it was interesting when it was out of control.”
You’re never too famous to stop fussing.
Killing time at the showroom in Paris waiting for our interview to begin, I caught sight of the designer fussing with a Comme mannequin in the corner. If she still has time to style the line’s least expensive offerings, shouldn’t we all pay more attention to the small stuff?
This story originally appeared on Vogue.
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