University of Hertfordshire

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Controversial Catwalk: Comme des Garçons ‘Sleep’ collection, 1995

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

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Original languageEnglish
JournalBloomsbury Fashion Photography Archives
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing Plc
Publication statusPublished - 2017


In 1995, Comme des Garçons provoked controversy with a collection featuring distressed fabric that bore faded boot prints, along with loose-fitting loungewear of blue and white striped cotton. Although Rei Kawakubo herself denied any intentional reference to the Holocaust, audiences saw the boot prints as references to bodies trampled underfoot, the vertically striped pajamas as imitations of those worn by concentration camp inmates. Large, “meaningless” numbers, printed onto hems, seemed to invite association with the depersonalization of concentration camp inmates. Kawakubo withdrew the collection from sale, but could not stem the tide of media criticism.

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