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Seen This Before !? 1


#01 SEPTEMBER 2018









EDITOR’S LETTER Let me start with how I was thinking of doing Seen This Before!? Magazine. June 2016 was the first time that my friend from Shanghai and I visited the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. I saw a lot of work that I had only seen online. There was a contemporary exhibition that included Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain; Dan Flavin’s “Monument” 1 for V. Tatlin; Jeff Koons’ Two Ball 50/50 Tank, etc. Though my friend is a finance major, she’s well educated too. However, what I got a lot from her was, “Oh, I’ve seen this before but have no idea what it means?” January 2017, with my friend from Japan at Mori Art Museum and August 2017, with my friend from local California at Seattle Art Museum, I hear the same quote, “I’ve seen this before!” And like a conditioned reflex always following with ”But what does that means?” I guess, many people might react the same way in that situation. I’m a full-time fashion editor, and a part-time art lover. I always want to do this combination, but I’m picky about it: there’re tons of this kind of magazines out there. I want to do in-depth rather than be superficial. I want my art choices to be classic, eternal, and with zeitgeist. And my fashion piece can value itself based on its references. This means my choices in the magazine will be something you’ve seen before, but also something you’ve never seen. Early this year, I was talking to Yilmaz Aktepe on the phone for an interview. While we were talking about the future plan for his next fashion editorial, he mentioned the whole gender discussion opens up in fashion: “The women’s fashion broke taboos many years ago. With men, it was just recently. I don’t think it’s enough to put a man into a dress or in a skirt. But lately the fashion really tackled [it] to be really sensitive and gave that whole variety of how you feel what your gender is a way you position yourself. It gives you a whole variety of clothes as well.” At the same time, we were doing our very first issue: the identity issue, while the gender identity is a big part of it: from our Robert Mapplethorpe and Hedi Slimane parallel comparison article featuring at the beginning, to the 2018 Spring/Summer Marc Jacobs’ transgender model Casil McArthur. For the identity issue, we also have a story featuring an interview with Yilmaz Aktepe, the long time stylist for GQ Magazine and editor-in-chief for Men’s Health Best Fashion. His eye for fashion editorial is artistic. We selected one fashion editorial called “Zwischenwelten” that has a big influence of the artist Francis Bacon. We are glad to have him to share the story with our readers, and see how the creative process, which also can be viewed as a self consciousness and individual identity that happen into this great artist Bacon’s mind. The first step of publishing a magazine is always troublesome: we have made great effort to put exciting content together, which means a lot of preparation, contacts, interviews, drafting, editing, designing, and sleepless nights. We want to present to our readers with the best interpretation of visual art and fashion. All the effort has one aim: we want readers to keep this magazine, either because it is well designed or contains good valuable content and information. Or maybe both. As every time my friends tell me when we go to the museums: “I wish you would still be here with me next time.”



Robert Mapplethorpe and Hedi Slimane are two of the greatest and highly controversial artists in their own fields in the 20th and 21st century. Though Robert Mapplethorpe and Hedi Slimane come from different locations and backgrounds, a number of parallels between them can be detected.

Similar radical always lies on Hedi Slimane, the French fashion designer as well as the former Creative Director at Yves Saint Laurent. Slimane cut Y from SL since his debut in Yves Saint Laurent in 2012, which is viewed as the most disrespectful behavior to the high-reputation fashion house.

Robert Mapplethorpe, the American photographer, generated a sensation by photographing homosexuals in the 1970s. In 1989 (also the year he died of AIDS), Senator Jesse Helms implored American to “Look at the pictures!” And claimed “He was a jerk;” “that is even not art.”


This is the first time we talk both of Robert Mapplethorpe and Hedi Slimane side by side. Although there are obvious differences between the two, a number of parallels can be detected.

LOYAL TO THE SELF: Left Two: Robert Mapplethorpe, Self Portrait Right Above: i-D Magazine Issue: Spring 2013 by Hedi Slimane






Crouching Boy, Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1530-33 (Marble, height 54 cm, The Hermitage, St. Petersburg) Bottom left: Ajitto, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1981

Robert Mapplethorpe, was born on November 4, 1946 in Floral Park, Queens, in a Catholic family. He enrolled at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn for Graphic Arts. He had no interest in photography until after he graduated. “If I had been born one hundred or two hundred years ago, I might have been a sculptor, but photography is a very quick way to see, to make a sculpture.�

The Sluggard, Robert Mapplethorpe,1988 9


As professionals adopted rather late in life in their different fields, both Mapplethorpe and Slimane are loyal to pursuing their versions of beauty. Although they worked during almost the same period, the influence of Mapplethorpe brought to Slimane is obvious; from black and white medium of photography (In May 2006, Hedi Slimane created his photographic blog Hedi Slimane Diary, styled in black and white) to the idea of making design a challenge of what is art, beauty and modernism. Hedi Slimane

Hedi Slimane, born in Paris on July 5 1968. Slimane studied the Art History at Ecole du Louvre before he stepped into the fashion world. He wished to become a journalist and reporter, but ended up by completing his internship at Jean-Jacques Picart as a consultant of fashion.



From top to bottom: Hedi Slimane Dairy, 2010.11.23; “Skull’, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1988; Flowers, Hedi Slimane Dairy, 2011; Orchid and Hand, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1983




City in the 1970s.

Polaroids of Yves Saint Laurent and Robert Mapplethorpe by Andy Warhol, 1972 and 1983

John McKendry, Robert Mapplethorpe 1975, printed 199

a. Robert Mapplethorpe by Judy L Chelsea Hotel, 1970; b. Yves Saint Laurent and Loulou de la Falaise, 1970; c. Untitled, Self-portrait with Loulou de la Falaise, 1971



a. The First Gay Protest in New York,1970; b. Bondage, self-portrait, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1973 c. Robert Mapplethorpe and David Croland, New York City, 1971, Photograph by Norman Seeff; d. ‘Leatherman #1’, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1970


Paris and New York never got so close after World War II. Yves Saint Laurent and Andy Warhol were the two representatives of fashion and art world at that moment, while Mapplethorpe was a fixture at The Factory, Andy Warhol’s studio in New York

That was the age that the Vietnam War almost came to the end; Rock n roll had become the mainstream; the hippies were blowing a cloud of smoke; youngster were advocating ”Make Love, Not War”, and gay rights movements Image (right): Vietnam War Protest in New York, 1970

In the beginning of the 1970s, Robert Mapplethorpe met Maxime de La Falaise, the mother of Loulou de la Falaise who was the creative partner and fashion muse of designer Yves Saint Laurent. According to Maxime de La Falaise, the famous fashion model and actress in the 1950s and 1960s, she helped Mapplethorpe step into the Upper Class world in Paris and New York. Meanwhile Loulou’s stepfather, John McKendry was a curator at Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as a gay man married out of convenience. When he met Mapplethorpe, he fell in love with him and bought him his first Polaroid camera. The young fellow recorded the 1970s in New York using the Polaroid camera. That was the age that the Vietnam War almost came to the end; Rock n roll had become the mainstream; the hippies were blowing a cloud of smoke; youngster were advocating ”Make Love, Not War”, and gay rights movements. Under that context, Mapplethorpe shot a series of S&M photos, recording the underground homosexual scene in the 1970s. The photography caused discontent and was considered as a blasphemy to art.


On the other side of the same period,


edi Slimane was just a 2 years old child. When Slimane turned 28 years old in 1996, he became the assistant of Yves Saint Laurent in the Menswear collection. Slimane took over the entire house in 2012 after Yves Saint Laurent passed away.

Besides renaming the house Saint Laurent Paris, he applied “low-key” streetstyle elements like distressed and Leopard prints to this refined high fashion house. The New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn pointed out Slimane’s designs “did not fall under the label’s category.” The blasphemy to the fashion house reminds us of Mapplethorpe’s photography to the art world. Maybe since then, the two artists associates the one with another.

Robert Mapplethorpe, photography by Judy Linn Saint Laurent spring 2015 Menswear, Look11

Saint Laurent Spring 2015 Menswear, Look39 Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, Judy Linn


According to the Tate museum, the inverted star (with one point facing down), making it a symbol of the devil. We see Slimane use it as a motif throughout his designs in the Spring 2015 Menswear collection.

a. Saint Laurent Spring 2015 Menswear b. Robert Mapplethorpe curated by Hedi Slimane, The Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery, 2005; c. Self Portrait, Robert Mapplethorpe, 1983

It’s common to see flowers in Mapplethorpe’s work. Delicate petals, and turgid pistils are given a meaning of sexuality. However, not much the star. In 2005 October, The Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery presented an exhibition of works by Robert Mapplethorpe, curated by Hedi Slimane. He emphasized the element of star. This makes us believe he attached great importance of the element to his design.


We can imaging Robert Mapplethorpe wearing them: from the leather jacket, transparent vest, bohemian accessories to his work references like the flower and the star. These two elements, however, have their own separate symbolic meanings.



ANOTHER INFLUENCE THAT MAPPLETHORPE BROUGHT TO SLIMANE IS SEXUAL IDENTITY. As Mapplethorpe further explored his medium, he became known for his portrayal of homosexuality and gay subculture. He investigated the concept of gender, within particular his own gender identity. Three of the portraits shown here, made in 1980, depict him as himself as a Teddy Boy of the 1960’s, in partial drag wearing make up, and an homage to Marcel Duchamp‘s female alter-ego Rrose Sélavy (Artobserved).

Later on, the individual form transformed into general. We see female’s curve in majestic male’s muscles, while in female’s, strength bodybuilding were added. An example can be seen in the case of the Lisa Lyon photos (left bottom), the first World Women’s Body Building Champion. How does that influence to Hedi Slimane? In 2013, Hedi Slimane shot a fashion editorial called “Is It Better to Love or Be Loved” for i-D’s spring/summer 2013 edition, featuring the androgynous side of the model Reuben Ramacher. From the strong reference from Mapplethorpe’s self portrait, we see the influence of Mapplethorpe to Slimane’s vision of mind.

The same influence is shown in Slimane’s aesthetic on design. From the Dior Homme skinny slim suits to the Saint Laurent’s rock star looks, Slimane once told Dazed: “The fact that if you cut them out, you wouldn’t be able to tell which is which. Menswear? Womenswear? Male? Female? We’re all a bit of both.”

Male model Reuben Ramacher, photography by Hedi Slimane, 2013; Female model Saskia de Brauw, photography by Hedi Slimane, 2013

“He was searching for something true about himself-emotionally, sexuality, existentially.” Philip Gefter, Wagstaff, Before and after Mapplethorpe: A Biography 2014





Reuben Ramacher for i-D S/S 2013 edition, photography by Hedi Slimane

Karlie Kloss for Vogue Japan June 2013, photography by Hedi Slimane











here’s no doubt that gender line always blurry in fashion. However, the androgyny in fashion differs from actual gender identity. The former one stays in merely fashion terms while the latter one, has something to do with the society variety and acceptance. When we traced back to the previous centuries, we found: Candy Darlingan, the American transgender actress who was best known as an Andy Warhol Superstar in the late 60 and early 70; Caroline “Tula” Cossey, an English model, appeared in a James Bond film and active during 70-90s; Octavia St Laurent, the inspiration for Madonna’s 1990 “Vogue” music video, and played herself as a transgender women in the legendary documentary Paris is Burning (1990). Then how’s our society acceptance look like recently? In 2010, Lea T, the Brazilian and Italian model who has served as a muse for the designer Givenchy, revealed she was transgender; Andrej Pejić, the Australian male model, told People Magazine in July 2014 that she now is Andreja; Kendall

Jenner’s Dad, Caitlyn Jenner, previously known as Bruce, announced to Vanity Fair in June 2015 her transgender identity; Hari Nef made history by becoming the first transgender woman to be signed to IMG models in 2015; model Hanne Gaby Odiele reveals she is intersex in January 2017; Model Teddy Quinlivan, discovered in 2015 by Nicolas Ghesquière, comes out as transgender in September 2017; Same year in November, Playboy debuts its first transgender Playmate, the French model, Ines Rau. There are more examples that haven’t shown here. The increasing numbers and data suggest that our society is progressive and comprehensive. In some way, yes, we do see some openness. However, Michael Hobbes wrote an article at HuffPost, saying “In the Netherlands, where gay marriage has been legal since 2001, gay men remain three times more likely to suffer from a mood disorder than straight men, and 10 times more likely to engage in “suicidal self-harm.” In Sweden, which has had civil unions since 1995 and full marriage since 2009, men

married to men have triple the suicide rate of men married to women.” Even though society seems open enough to embrace the LGBT community, even though the minority finally fought for legal marriage, the unbearable statistics still leave us a question mark. This reminds me of the movie Yves Saint Laurent(2014). People love him because of his talent, his design, and his fame. But when he was beaten for being a gay, no one shows sympathy or helps. Same with the movie The Elephant Man (1980) by David Lynch. At the end of the story, the elephant man finally got what he was longing for: the “normal human life.” However, the “normal human life” was built on how merciful the upper class people feel about themselves. It’s fragile. It’s superficial. Maybe, the gender issue is just a beginning.



Usage: MEN’S HEALTH BEST FASHION | Post Production: RECOM GmbH & Co. KG | Hair&Make-up: Andreas BERNHARDT | Model: Andre Van Nord & Babalon Salome | Photographer: Ralph Mecke | Stylist: Yilmaz Aktepe | Assistants: Florian Azar & Zoe Lee Richter 26






Right: Yilmaz Aktepe Bottom: Francis Bacon in his studio by Cecil Beaton, 1960



The fashion editorial we selected called “Zwischenwelten,” made by Ralph Mecke, a long time photographer for Vogue, and styled by Yilmaz Aktepe, the fashion editor-in-chief for Men’s Health Best Fashion, and a former stylist for GQ Germany. The fashion editorial “Zwischenwelten” was created for Men’s Health Best Fashion in Sept. 2014. It’s obvious that we see a strong homage to this Irish-born British painter Francis Bacon who is best known for his depictions of popes. His approach to painting was always associated with motion. The famous French philosopher Gilles Deleuze even wrote a book about Francis Bacon, pointing out his work had a “logic of sensation,” which makes us believe his work may have philosophical practice. If you want to hear more about Francis Bacon, the documentary “Francis Bacon: A Brush with Violence” that was produced by BBC in 2017 may give you an overall idea of his biography. More intimate knowledge about this artist is in which the movie called Love Is the Devil, directed by John Maybury in 1998, focuses on his gay identity and relationship with his lover. The fashion editorial “Zwischenwelten” uses photographs as his blurry style of painting. The bizarreness stops you to “watch”: twisted face, naked women, and something abstract and absurd. Fortunately, we are glad to invite the stylist Yilmaz Aktepe to talk about the inspiration and story behind the fashion editorial.

Francis Bacon Studio Material, 1971










Bacon’s contorted figurative painting Portrait of Henrietta Moraes, 1963

“The story is all about the inside of Bacon’s mind. “ Yilmaz Akpete

LC: What does “Zwischenwelten” mean in German? YA: “Zwischenwelten” is a German word which means “In Between Worlds”, like “Worlds In Between Worlds.” It’s like a reality within other’s reality.


LC: How did you come up with the idea? What’s the key element for you to begin the work? YA: Basically what we built were two different scenarios. Bacon’s art and his body he painted are always contorted. He’s been through very painful creative process. His very painful life can create very strong art and what I thought was very interesting was how he was locked up in his emotional self. It was like a prison that he had built himself. That’s why we built this metal room, that symbolizes his mind where he prisoned himself up. He is prisoned in that metal room which is his very own prison. He is prisoned and the other side is prisoned, like other people, like you see the big lady that is like a ghost or you see this person in the colored room that is dancing. We actually got a dancer from the Hamburg opera to help us on that. The story is all about the inside of Bacon’s mind.

LC: What’s the purpose of the colorful photographs? YA: There are three images in the colored room. and you never see that person’s face. Basically you only see the face of one person ever, Andre Van Nord, the model we worked with because his face is so expressive. And it’s so unusual and strong. He’s more like an actor. He is our protagonist, our Bacon. But you’ve never seen anybody else’s face. It’s always masked or blurred. In the color room, those were the demons. Those were symbolizing the demons that are playing with Bacon’s mind.

Top: Francis Bacon in his studio by Cecil Beaton, 1960 Left: Francis Bacon in his studio by Cecil Beaton, 1960 Right: Zwischenwelten, Men’s Health Best Fashion, 2014


He was locked up in his own living prison and his only way to communicate is to his art, to the outside the world. Yilmaz Aktepe Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent, Francis Bacon, 1953

LC: Can you describe your process in detail. How did you translate the idea into the reality? YA: Well, it’s been some years ago so I try to find a way. Basically it started with the art and some images that are extremely strong for influences. One image that stuck with me since my June from Bacon is the “screaming pope.” There are several versions of the “screaming pope” but one of the version has this niche like at a butcher or slaughter house behind him. So that was like a starting point to find a way to show his art without trying to imitate it. I came to the idea of showing the contorted artist. That was the way to go well. He was sort of locked up in his own living prison and his only way to communicate is to his art, to the outside the world.

So why not go into that person, go into that creative, into that thought process. Face the pain. It’s like a kid that scared in the dark because the closet door is ajar. Go to the door, open it, face your demons. Because they can be the key to something new. Don’t be scare. Be curious.


YA: My assistant started a research about the meat. To use a dead animal for a photo shoot I think is a blood scene in a waste because you have to throw it away afterwards. It’s very difficult for a private person in Germany to throw away a big amount of meat. You have to dispose of it at a certain place which is expensive. But my major point was I don’t wanna waste for the simple matter of a photo shoot, something that I object to because the way meat is produced in our time is really really bad. It’s not good for human, it’s not good for nature. It’s not a good thing all together, but at the same time, I wanna make people take that, even if it’s not being able to be defined for it. Even if you don’t go the whole way that I’m thinking or intending to, I don’t mind. We started a research of how to get fake carcass, and that time the musical Rocky was playing in Hamburg. And we gotta contact with the musical people and they gave us the meat because in the movie, Rocky was boxing in the slaughter house, with that dead cows. They gave us that for the photo shooting which was amazing. We got a lot of other creative departments helping us, like the opera having a dancer for us.

If you can inspire people, if you can make them burn for the idea that you wanna create. They are so willing to help you. Nobody ask money for it, they are so happy to help. Top Left: Figure with Meat, Francis Bacon, 1954 Top Right: Rocky discovers hitting beef, Movie Rocky, 1976 Bottom: Zwischenwelten, Men’s Health Best Fashion, 2014

YA: The chair that the model sitting on (was what) my photographer found in an antique shop in New York. He took the chair apart and brought it over to Hamburg while I had the metal room built. The whole room that you can move it around. The back side of the metal room is the colored walls of the other rooms. Basically it’s inside out as well, if you have the metal (room) inside, you have the color (room) outside. If you have the color inside, you have the metal outside. That was sort of inside world, outside world as well.


LC: I was wondering if the photographs have it’s philosophical practice. YA: In a way, yes, but it is still a fashion editorial. That’s what I try to say if I put a lot of meaning into the images, I don’t expect people to understand it completely. If people do, I delight it, but if they don’t, I’m still happy if they can enjoy it, if it makes people think it fantastic. I mean that’s the best if that could happen. It should move them. But if it doesn’t move them, they can dislike it. I’m happy with that. But it should touch them. If it doesn’t mean anything to them, then I failed. Is it philosophical ideas, or messages to the different images as well as by using such a voluminous woman, giving her sexiness. In the series, there’s one image where a demon with a mask sitting naked on the chair with the voluminous lady on his leg.

On the other side, the protagonist with the very skinny bald-headed girl. So it’s a twist between what is sexy and what is we call beauty.

In This Page: Self Portrait, Francis Bacon, 1969 Zwischenwelten, Men’s Health Best Fashion, 2014


LC: How would you describe the fashion in this particular editorial? Is that because that’s how Bacon would dress or entirely something different?

YA: No, I wouldn’t say this is how Bacon dressed. It have to do with what was happening at the time it should. The fashion “Bacon” wearing is basically a sort of modern elegance. Because Bacon was in his time, he wore what he wore. I don’t try to imitate. Basically I would trying to portrait what would Bacon possibly wear today if he cared. I don’t think Bacon cared too much about fashion. That day fashion was not really important. In nowadays, fashion has become a different importance, especially if you’re in a media with a certain look, you can set a trend. It’s a modern day version, set in that time. I think that was Autumn/ Winter 2014 that was published. So that was how elegant man dressed around that time. Basically the fashion should support the story rather than dominate the story.

In This Page: Francis Bacon in Raincoat, Photography by John Deakin, 1967; Zwischenwelten, Men’s Health Best Fashion, 2014





Deconstruction, Feminism, Iconism, Rebellion, Political Can These Truly Define COMME des Garรงons?

Two Japanese fashion designers first showed in Paris Intercontinental Hotel in the spring of 1981. They were Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto. At that moment, Rei has managed her brand COMME des Garçons for around 8 years. However, COMME des Garçons didn’t please Paris like her peers, Kenzo, Hanae Mori and Issey Miyake.

Hotel Intercontinental was an avenue for fashion shows in Paris. Chanel Women’s Ready-to-Wear collection Autumn/Winter 1980-1981, March 31, 1980. Model: Sayoko Yamaguchi.

In the early ‘80s, the French couture houses were considered the epitome of fashion: a woman with good taste would choose to wear Chanel, Gianni Versace, Donna Karan, and Thierry Mugler who were symbols of high-glamour and perfect tailoring. In the late 1970s, Kawakubo began a relationship with fellow Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto.

80s High Glamour Representative: Thierry Mugler 1979, Photo by Jean Luce Hure

COMME des Garçons Dress, photographed by Peter Lindbergh, 1980s

COMME des Garçons Dress, photographed by Peter Lindbergh, 1980s



COMME des Garçons Fall 1982

Kawakubo sent the first collection of black, shapeless garments with asymmetric hems, odd flaps, laddered knits and shredded fabric. COMME des Garçons presented a collection in direct opposition to the ascetics of the time, challenged what is beauty, and questioned the concept that clothes were intended to make the wearer look attractive. However, the French critic and media don’t think so. The French daily morning newspaper Le Figaro claimed that it was an unpleasant show and gave people a feeling of disaster; Suzy Menkes from The New York Times said: ”We call them Swiss cheese sweaters because cheese in Swissland has holes in it. ”


COMME des Garรงons A/W 1982 Photo: Peter Lindbergh



Paris Match reported that it was a cheap art, and suggesting wearing it when going to the tax office or brushing the wall. The collection was dismissed by critics as “ragged chic,” and also was attacked on a political level, labeled “Hiroshima chic” or “post atomic.” For all these comments, Kawakubo replied ‘‘Although I never went hungry, I remember well the extreme poverty and devastation of those times. But this had no bearing on my work whatsoever. These critics had it all wrong. Being born in Japan was an accident. There is no direct correlation to my work. Growing up in postwar Japan has made me the person I am, but it is not why I do the work I do. It is a very personal thing – everything comes from inside.’’ This was Kawakubo, and her work had been misunderstood for the first time.


Like many great designers, Rei Kawakubo didn’t have any formal training in fashion design. She studied art and literature at Keio University. In 1964 Japan, the postwar period had finally ended, and with it came the beginning of the new prosperity. She took her first job working in the advertising at a textiles factory where she sometimes would style props or costumes for photo shoots. At the encouragement of her coworkers, she left the company to becomes a freelance stylist, often making her own clothing when she couldn’t find the right piece for a shoot. In 1969 she began making clothes under the label COMME des Garçons because ’’I could never find clothes that I wanted to wear, so I decided to make them myself.”

Rei Kawakubo fitting a model at COMME des Garçons Fashion Show, 1987 56

IC AS THE Rei Kawakubo by Paul Van Riel, 1982


Rei Kawakubo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, 1987

Rei Kawakubo’s smile photographed by Ferdinando Scianna, 1987.



Left: COMME des Garçons 1977 Spring Summer Collection Details; The Kyoto Costume Institute Japan; S/S 1997 Collection Advertising; In this page: S/S 1997 Campaign; Vogue, 1997; Merce Cunningham’s dance Scenario with costumes by COMME des Garçons

In Spring/Summer 1997 collection, Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body, she ‘distorted’ the female figure.

As for the brand name, COMME des Garçons, a French word, “like boys,” which later has been identified with feminism and women’s power, was only because she likes how the word sounds. “I chose COMME des Garçons as a name because I liked the sound. It doesn’t mean much to me, I didn’t intend to promote myself, that’s why I didn’t put my name on it,” the designer explained in 1992. Unlike most fashion designers of her time, Kawakubo never looks up sources for inspiration. She wanted her work to be the item. While other designers were cutting and draping their silhouettes, Kawakubo was shredding and twisting hers.

Fashion would continue to move forward and Kawakubo continued to create what defined the way women dressed, experimenting with color, textiles and shape. In her Spring/Summer 1997 collection, Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body, she ‘distorted’ the female figure by imposing lumps and bumps throughout gingham garments, using bulbous padding that masked models’ body shapes beyond recognition.


The collection was viewed by The New York Time with the headline “Is It New and Fresh or Merely Strange,” using the description like “ lumpy masses” and “unwearable”. However, Suzy Menkes commented “Somehow, it seems much more about women and their feel about their body. I think It’s a really outstanding collection.” Fashion and literary critic Barbara Vinken thinks what is behind the collection is much more meaningful- she challenged social order since traditional society consisted of beautiful and elegant women.

When Kawakubo explained this collection, she said “I was looking for what else can be the new clothes? When it almost ran out of time, I suddenly realized that clothes can be body while body can be clothes. I was thinking if this can be the new clothes? I don’t expect these clothes become the ordinary outfit but to COMME des Garçons, it should remain fresh as always.”


But to COMME des Garçons, it should remain fresh as always.

Left: COMME des Garçons 1977 Spring Summer Collection; Merce Cunningham’s dance Scenario with costumes by COMME des Garçons; In this page: COMME des Garçons, Dress from the Spring/Summer 1997 Collection, photographed by Paolo Roversi

Over thirty years later, Kawakubo’s radical departure from fashion norms is seen as one of the defining moments in modern fashion. From what is absurd and awkward to the noble labels like feminism, deconstruction, iconism, political and etc, here comes the ‘greatness’ of COMME des Garçons. However, people love explaining everything that is GREAT, even great itself doesn’t know. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2017 invited Kawakubo to have an exhibition. “Rei Kawakubo is one of the most important and influential designers of the past forty years,” says Andrew Bolton, the curator of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vogue reports: “By inviting us to rethink fashion as a site of constant creation, recreation, and hybridity, she (Kawakubo) has defined the aesthetics of our time.”


Rei Kawakubo for COMME des Garรงons by Paolo Roversi (Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art) Rei Kawakubo, photographed by Paolo Roversi in December 2016


The meaning is there is no meaning.

That was the first time the Gala has chosen to focus on a living designer since Yves Saint Laurent in 1983. What’s more interesting is that both COMME des Garçons and Yves Saint Laurent were critiqued in The New York Times with the headline ”Is It New and Fresh or Merely Strange” that we mentioned earlier.

For the exhibition, except for reaching her goal of being recognized as part of fashion history, Kawakubo seems doesn’t really happy about it. Once she said in an interview with Bolton, featured in The Financial Times Limited 2017: “I’ve never liked my clothes being interpreted, so I was never going to be comfortable with your [Bolton’s] interpretation, irrespective of its perspective. Nothing you [Bolton] could have come up with would have made me happy. Basically, I’ve never wanted my work to be understandable.” Looking back to 1995, Kawakubo already stated in The Independent newspaper: “The meaning is there is no meaning.”


With such a belief in Zen, a concept of void and nothingness, Kawakubo showed us the same in her design process:“To me, designing is not all about designing. ‘Not designing’ is also designing to me.”

In her rare documentary The Challenge of Rei Kawakubo, produced by Japanese NHK TV in 2001, she talked about her unusual design process: giving her assistants only limited and abstract direction without any draft or fashion illustration. To do so, a process of searching drives thinking. Thus, new stuff that never be created before can be created.


Maybe the emphasis will never be about those interpretations or even her design, but a pure pursuit of creation of originality. As her original intent of doing this brand, “it should remain fresh, as always.”

From Left to Right: Tim Walker for i-D Magazine 2017; Kendall Jenner in COMME des Garçons for Vogue Japan October 2016; COMME des Garçons A/W 2015 Black; Freja Beha Erichsen in COMME des Garçons; Jazelle Zanaughtti in COMME des Garçons for AnOther Magazine 2016; Karlie Kloss in COMME des Garçons by Steven Klein for V Magazine #94, Spring 2015; COMME des Garçons Shirt Advertising; Sarah Moon, Monette for COMME des Garçons, 2007; SHOWstudio for COMME des Garçons A/W 16 Fashion Film






s models walked down the runway at the Armory New York City, there is only sound that high heel beating against the wooden floor. The runway played with no soundtrack until the finale from a French film called Diva in 1981. In an interview with WWD, Jacobs shares the musical choice “I don’t know how to win. I’m not that versed in opera. I’m much more versed in film. Steve Mackey, who does the music, and I thought it was a beautiful piece of music. I didn’t even know the translation. Sometimes an aria is just an aria.” Fashion is mute until it’s given a voice. As Marc Jacobs mentioned, “It’s not a goodbye.” It’s “La Wally,” Alfredo Catalani’s opera in Diva. In part, it translates, “I shall go far away.”


Marc Jacobs turns this season with head wrap. Culture appropriation debate aside, his collection felt “exaggerated, decadent and exotic,” featuring the silk turbans, the gigantic outwear and the dropped-crotch pants in wild colors and bold batik prints, the nerdy fanny packs and the not-so-cool sporty sandals. All completed with wrap around head scarf. It sort of reminds us... The Ugly Chic. Jacobs insisted that “the collection had no deep, intellectual or conceptual springboard,” Despite his words, we noticed there’s a inherit of the tradition of La Nouvelle Vague (The New Wave). In the beginning of the 80’s, French filmmakers were inspired by New Hollywood films, which basically presents a documentary style film on current social issues on location. At the same time, it brought its commercial side to cater to audiences, which is so called “Cinéma du look” movement. Meaning, it adds visual and hyper-dramatic situations based on documentary-style films.

Diva’s director, Jean-Jacques Beineix, is one of the representatives of the “Cinéma du look.” What does that mean to Marc Jacobs? Returning to the archives and bringing something new. Obviously, he plays this game well. Jacobs started his head wraps 8 years ago when he accompanied Kate Moss who worn the Stephen Jones turban to the Met Gala.


The show landed itself on the sexual map too. One of the most crucial point in this season belonged to a 18-year-old trans-model named Casil McArthur, who was the only one model walked without head pieces or accessories. With more transgendered and intersex models coming out and revealing their identities, this community is being taken and were accepted by the fashion industry and beyond.





his collection can be viewed as an extended collection from the last season: from diner uniforms, cowboy boots, and denim to coats layered under translucent fitted plastic and chiffon blouses in the contrasting colors. It’s something we are familiar with. However, the splash-ink on the coats (suggests blood?), and the runway setting brought the vibe into the dark side: the rafters hung with colorful pompoms but with dangling axes, created by American artist Sterling Ruby who has collaborated with Simons for several times. People can feel American horror under the glamorous American beauty.


“Fashion is absolutely, absolutely escaping its reality,” Simons told the Cut editor Cathy Horyn. “It’s always trying to be a fantasyland.”

To break the “fantasy,” Simons recontextualized Andy Warhol’s “Death and Disaster” series in the collection. It’s screen printed in a range of material like leather and silk. To reach that, Simons got an experiment with Lqqk Studio to make sure each look of the collection is a real walking piece of art rather than print copies.

More than that, the reference of Andy Warhol’s “Death and Disaster” series conveyed the most important message of this season. In the 1950’s, America celebrated their search for believing in the American dream. But later things changed. In the late 1950’s to the 1960’s, the optimism beginning of the decade shifted, and the USA gave ways to polarization, resentment and violence.


Under that context, Andy Warhol created this series. His most famous one (which was not shown in the collection) is called “129 Dead In Jet,” which was the news title that Warhol saw in Daily News. Simply only using words and a number can make people feel panicked. This is how this series began.

Obviously, Simons got this urgent feeling of anxiety about the American future. The hope is that history doesn’t repeat itself. This Belgian designer knows America better than anyone else. He is building up symbolism. But that takes time. Last season he debuted the first Calvin Klein collection which was the first series of symbols: a spirit of a new age, an American dream. Here comes the second, panic from the awakening dream.

The Cut summarized the show this way “Simons is taking the art associations and the indignation and redirecting them toward American violence. He has an enormous opportunity to make fashion more politically and culturally relevant.” Rather than reviewing the clothes, there‘s much more to see in this storytelling.



ith a space set of ancient Egypt gods, Mayan archways, Greek and Roman statues, as well as Aztec temple and bandage-swathed mummy, Alessandro Michele is like a modern version of Jesus, assembling his disciples. They walked on the “Tiber River, ”(part of the runway setting), as like Peter, one of Jesus’ disciple, walking on the water according to the Gospel of Matthew. Michele’s disciples come from worldwide: from the East messenger, the high priests to the English Noble family. With colored disco lights flashing in the Techno music called Under the Lights (the soundtrack which is made by Rob Lewis and Emre Ramazanoglu), a party was officially started.


Dress code is knitted dresses with beaded seams, Chinese embroidery skirt suits, Prince of Wales check blazers; a maximalism styling in the renaissance necklaces, and glittery sci-fi sunglasses. There turns out a lot that goes on the collection: culture, religion, world, man, woman, new, vintage, exquisite, and casual.

Among all, the 1970’s glam rock can never be taken the eyes off. It took reference from the elaborate stage costumes of its muse Elton John, the English legendary singer who was popular during the time of the 1970’s and the 1980’s. The element of an “eye” on the tote bag was a graphic design of Elton John’s Album called Levon in 1976. In addition, jumpsuit with sequin detail, puff shoulder striped top, checkered jacket which was shown in the collection also be viewed as a respect to the famed costume designer and Mr. John’s stylist Bob Mackie.

Michele told in an interview with Telegraph. “All I’m doing is questioning the way it (fashion) does things. Sometimes it seems like an industry that wants to change with the times, but can’t quite stop thinking in a way that hasn’t really changed since Dior’s New Look.” 75

A clip from C’était un rendez-vous (English: It Was a Date), Claude Lelouch, 1976.

Bottom: Gucci Cruise 2018; Right: Courtesy of Gucci


If this season is all about breaking the rule, a clip from 1976 called C’était un rendez-vous (English: It Was a Date) suggests a totally different thing. The film is a French short movie directed by Claude Lelouch, shown ahead of the Gucci Spring Summer 2018 Ready-to-Wear show. The clip pictures an eight-minute drive through Paris, accompanied by sounds of a high-revving engine, gear changes and squealing tyres. When it comes to the final shot: the last ten seconds, the driver gets out of his car, embracing his valentine.

A long journey comes to the end of such a little thing: a hug. For Michele, it can be “Blind For Love”: the concept we’ve seen in his previous collections. Maybe this is the rule that he’ll never break.


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SeenThisBefore!? Magazine, Vol. 1, Issue 1: Identity  

SeenThisBefore!? Magazine is an art-oriented fashion magazine. Here is the first issue based on the theme of identity.

SeenThisBefore!? Magazine, Vol. 1, Issue 1: Identity  

SeenThisBefore!? Magazine is an art-oriented fashion magazine. Here is the first issue based on the theme of identity.