Re-Edition // Comme des Garçons
Rei Kawakubo may be notoriously elusive, but over the last five decades she’s proven hungry to collaborate with and nurture similarly radical minds. Dover Street Market, the retail jewel in the crown of her Comme des Garçons empire, was borne of a desire to sell her own collections alongside the work of other disruptive, forward-thinking designers.
This vision came to life back in 2004, with the opening of a permanent location in London’s Haymarket. With its concrete floors and pop-up installations, the store quickly became an institution in its own right; fifteen years later, five more permanent additions have emerged across the globe. Art has remained a staple of this Comme universe – past collaborators have included Yayoi Kusama and Cindy Sherman – but the new introduction of cult musicians into the fold signals yet another creative shift.
The most recent addition to the extended Comme family is Chicago House pioneer Honey Dijon, whose debut capsule collection will be simply, ingeniously titled ‘Honey Fucking Dijon’. To say the collaboration is a perfect fit would be a understatement. Like Rei, Honey has consistently refused to compromise creativity for commercial success; as a result, she’s carved out an iron-clad reputation which has seen her staddle the worlds of art, fashion and music.
Swedish artist ionnalee is similarly visionary. After years of releasing upbeat, guitar-driven tracks under her birth name, Jonna Lee, she founded record label to whom it may concern in 2010 and switched gears completely. An extreme transformation – both sonic and visual – took place, birthing the audiovisual project iamamiwhoami.
A public introduction of sorts came through a series of viral videos, which saw Lee’s face entirely obscured by dirt, paint and mud; in these clips she crawls through undergrowth, licks gnarled tree bark and runs through snow-covered forests as frenetic synths swell beneath the cinematography. Mythology and mystery continued to define the then-anonymous project, which soon spawned a collection of full-length tracks – whose one-letter titles spelled out debut album ‘bounty’ – confirming iamamiwhoami as one of the most ethereal, individual voices in electronica.
The project yielded two more albums – ‘kin’ and ‘BLUE’ – before eventually being halted by Lee, who later shifted her focus to releasing music as a solo artist. It was around this time that she received an email from Comme’s then-visual merchandising director, Andrew Taylor Parr. “After he bought our album ‘BLUE’ he emailed us and I wrote back,” she recalls. “He connected us to [Rei’s partner] Adrian Joffe, and we got to know each other – that’s where it started.”
Eventually, this email exchange yielded a creative partnership which ionnalee describes as “an alliance based on mutual creative beliefs.” This alliance kicked off with the video for her debut solo single ‘SAMARITAN’, which – and here’s where the Rei tie comes in – offers a cutting visual commentary of pop culture’s idolisation of the artist and the commercial pressures this creates. “It was written as a liberating tool to break free creatively,” she explained at the time, “and also to declare the standpoint of my creative process as a living, breathing thing existing out of will, not for commercial purposes or to please the industry, or my following.”