Image from Volume 2 of Sixth Sense

Library Installation: Rei Kawakubo's Aesthetic Sixth Sense

September 25, 2008 - November 14, 2008

Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo maintains strict control over all design elements associated with her fashion house Comme des Garçons. Since founding the company in 1973, she has overseen not only the individual clothing lines, but also the design and layout of the stores and seasonal catalogues, marking them all with her own unique style.

From 1988 to 1991, Kawakubo embarked on a bold experiment that transformed the notion of a fashion catalogue from a documentary listing of individual items into a bold, avant-garde fine arts magazine that incidentally included images of the season’s line. She called the publication Sixth Sense, or Six for short, explaining in the premier issue, “’Six’ is the sixth sense. It is the sense of the surreal. Although the sixth sense is impossible to describe, ‘flair’ may be one aspect of this sense.” Each issue mixed newly commissioned works by the hottest contemporary fashion photographers showcasing Comme des Garçons wardrobe with iconic images created by the masters of photography. Contemporary artists frequently appeared in the issues, both with their art and as models. The overall gritty quality of the prints is evocative of Kawakubo’s design aesthetic, which in the early days of the company was considered “Hiroshima chic.”

The Clark is one of a small number of libraries that holds a complete set of Sixth Sense.

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